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Translation Technology Aims to Assist Endangered Languages

Microsoft and Google have worked for years on translation technologies for major languages but are now also supporting endangered languages. Both companies offer free tools built on algorithms able to learn languages based on statistical comparisons of translated documents. Google has launched grammar-based translations in an alpha-version translator for five Indian languages, most not represented online. Microsoft is offering groups—such as the Hmong community in Fresno, California—the opportunity to construct their own translation systems by letting them supply written source material that the company’s technology can use to learn to translate. Machine-translation systems have been developed for roughly 100 of the world's 7,000 languages, estimates Microsoft Research. Greg Anderson, director of Living Tongues, a nonprofit organization that documents and supports disappearing languages, told Technology Review that most endangered languages survive because their communities actively using them online. (Technology Review)(Microsoft Translator Hub)(Living Tongues)

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