Google Translate Learns 24 New Languages

Since its inception, Google, the tech giant, has helped break down language barriers by translating indigenous languages. To make this translation even more accessible for more people, Google Translate introduces measures for adding new languages to its already diverse array of languages.

In May 2022, Google Translate added 24 new languages to its portfolio of translated languages. Spoken by almost 300 million people worldwide, these 24 new languages were added to include more people in the fold of Google Translate’s languages. According to Google, new artificial intelligence technology has enabled it to expand its portfolio of world languages. 

However, this move by Google has faced some criticism and backlash. According to the tech giant, these 24 new languages were added using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, in which a machine learning model learns to translate into another language without seeing an example. This makes this introduction open to debate and needs improvement regarding the language model and translation. 

Why does Google Translate add New Languages?

For many years, Google Translate has facilitated communications and dialogue by providing instant translations of languages. However, besides providing translations in the popular regions of the world, Google Translate has focused on providing translations of indigenous languages mainly confined to smaller areas.

The sole purpose of adding new languages to its vast collection of speeches is the diversity and changing demographics of the world. As more and more people migrate and shift to urban areas, the need to cover all indigenous languages is gaining hold.

Moreover, by adding these indigenous languages, Google Translate aims to “preserve” these languages so that people can use them in daily as well as business communications. 

Below is the complete list of 24 new languages added by Google Translate:

The 24 New Languages of Google Translate

1. Assamese

Assamese is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by approximately 25 million people in North East India. The Assamese language evolved alongside other Eastern Indo-Aryan languages in the 7th century CE from the Indo-Aryan Magadhi Prakrit.

Its sister languages include Bengali, Angika, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Hajong, Rajbangsi, Maithili, Rohingya, and Sylheti. Assamese is written in the abugida system from left to right in the Assamese alphabet.

2. Aymara

Aymara is an Aymaran language spoken by about two million people in Bolivian Andes and Peru. Being one of the only languages among the Native American languages with more than one million speakers, Aymara is also spoken by communities in northern Chile, where it is expressed as a minority language.

3. Bambara

Bambara, also known as Bamana, is the lingua franca and national language spoken by almost 15 million people. It is the native language of 5 million Bambara people and has 10 million speakers who use it as a second language. According to estimates, about 80% of people in Mali speak Bambara as their first or second language. 

4. Bhojpuri

Spoken by almost 50 million people in northern India, Nepal, and Fiji, Bhojpuri is an Indo-Aryan language that is native to the Bhojpur region of India. Mainly spoken in western Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, and northern Madhya Pradesh, as well as the Terai region of Nepal,

Bhojpuri has been deemed a dialect of the Hindi language. Additionally, it is also spoken as a minority language in some states and assumes the position of the national language of Nepal. 

5. Dhivehi

Dhivehi, also known as Maldivian, has about 300,000 speakers in the Maldives. It is an Indo-Aryan language mainly spoken in the South Asian country of Maldives, on Minicoy Island, and the union territory of India, Lakshadweep.

The Dhivehi language is a descendent of Elu Prakrit and is a close relative of Sinhalese. The language has been influenced by many other languages such as Portuguese, Persian, French, Arabic, Tamil, and Hindi.

6. Dogri

A northern Indo-Aryan language, Dogri is spoken by about 5 million people in India, mainly in the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir and also spoken in parts of Kangra and Chamba in Himachal Pradesh, as well as in Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, and Gurdaspur. Indians treat the Dogri language as mainly the ethnic language of the Dogras. 

7. Ewe

About 20 million people in Ghana, Benin, and Togo use the Ewe language as a group of related languages commonly known as Gbe languages. Like many African languages, the Ewe language is a tonal one and a member of the Niger-Congo family. 

8. Guarani

Spoken primarily in Paraguay, Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil, the Guarani language is a South-American language belonging to the Tupi-Guarani family. It is also one of the official languages of Paraguay, where most people speak it. It is also spoken in neighboring countries, such as northeastern Argentina, southeastern Bolivia, and southwestern Brazil. 

9. Ilocano

Ilocano, spoken by about 10 million people, is an Austronesian language spoken mainly in the Philippines, primarily by Ilocano people, and as the lingua franca of the Igorot people. Being an Austronesian language,

Ilocano is the third-most spoken language in the Philippines and is related to Malay, Tetum, Chamorro, Fijian, Maori, Samoan, Tahitian, and Malagasy. 

10. Konkani

 The Konkani language is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 10 million Konkani people along the west coast of Konkan, India. It is a member of the southern Indo-Aryan group of languages and has similarities with western and eastern Indo-Aryan languages.

It is the official language of the Indian state of Goa and is a minority language in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, and Nagar Haveli. 

11. Krio

Krio, also known as Sierra Leonean Creole, is an English-based creole language, the lingua franca, and the national language of Sierra Leone. Krio is spoken by four million people, about 96% of the country’s population.

This language is native to Sierra Leone Creole people, descendants of enslaved people from the West Indies, Canada, and the United States. Although Krio is commonly spoken in the Sierra Leone region, it does not possess an official status there. 

12. Lingala

Having about 15 million native speakers, the Lingala language is a Bantu language spoken primarily in the northwestern part of the Democratic Republic of Coandl, the northern half of Congo, and in the capital cities of Kinshell as Brazzaville. It is also spoken as a second language by about 25 million people in central Africa and Sudan. 

13. Luganda

The Luganda or Ganda language is a Bantu in the African Great Lakes region. It is one of the primary languages of Uganda and is spoken by more than 10 million Baganda people of central Uganda, along with the capital Kampala of Uganda. Luganda is the de facto national language and one of the most widely spoken Ugandan trade areas. 

14. Maithili

A language of 34 million people in northern India, the Maithili language is an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Nepal and India. Spoken natively in the Maithili region, which covers Bihar and Jharkhand states, the Maithili language is one of the 22 officially recognized languages. It is the second-most spoken language in Nepal.

15. Meiteilon

Meiteilon or Manipuri language is a Sino-Tibetan language belonging to the Tibet-Burman group of languages. It is the official language and the most widely spoken language of the Manipur state in northeastern India.

Also recognized as one of the official languages of the Government of India, the Meitei language has about two million speakers and is the most widely used language of Northeastern India. 

16. Mizo

Spoken by approximately 830,000 people of Northeastern India, the Mizo language is a Kuki-Chin-Mizo language belonging to the Tibeto-Burman language family.

It is the native language of the Mizo people residing in the Mizoram state of India. It is also the lingua franca of Myanmar and Bangladesh and is spoken in scattered areas of Assam, Manipur, and Tripura. 

17. Oromo

An Afro-Asiatic language, the Oromo language belongs to a Cushitic branch of languages. Native to the Ethiopian region of Oromia and a predominant language of the Oromo people, the total speakers of this language amount to 37 million in Ethiopia and Kenya.

The Oromo language is the second most widely spoken language in Ethiopia and is also spoken as the first language in eastern Kenya. 

18. Quechua

Quechua, also known as Runasimi, belongs to an indigenous language family of the Quechuan people residing mainly in the Peruvian Andes. It is also one of the most widely spoken pre-Columbian languages of the Americas, with an estimated 10 million speakers in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, and surrounding areas. 

19. Sanskrit

The Sanskrit language is spoken by 20,000 people in India and is an old Indo-Aryan language. It is a liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism and is among the 22 official languages of India.

Like Latin and Greek in Europe, the Sanskrit language has influenced many other languages with its scripts and appears in its pre-classical form of Vedic Sanskrit.

20. Sepedi

A language spoken by about 14 million people, the Sepedi language is also known as Northern Sotho. The Sepedi or Pedi language is expressed primarily in the northeastern province of South Africa.

It is the first language of about 4.6 million people in South Africa, making it the 5th most spoken language. Additionally, the Sepedi language is spoken widely in Africa’s Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Limpopo provinces. 

21. Sorani Kurdish

The Sorani Kurdish, also known as Central Kurdish, is spoken mainly in the Iraqi Kurdistan region of Iraq and the provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, and West Azerbaijan of Iran. Sorani is one of the two official languages of Iraq, other than Arabic, and is mentioned simply as the “Kurdish” language. 

22. Tigrinya

Tigrinya is an Ethiopian Semitic language mainly spoken in Eritrea and the Tigray region in the north of Ethiopia. It is also the language of 8 million people and indigenous people of Eritrean high, and the Tigray people speak it as their first language. 

23. Tsonga

A language spoken by about 7 million people, the Tsonga language is a Bantu language of the Tsonga people in Southern part of Africa. Although mutually intelligible with Tswa and Ronga, the term “Tsonga” covers all three languages. The Tsonga language is the official language of South Africa and is known as Shangani, the official language of Zimbabwe. 

24. Twi

The Twi language, also known as the Akan Kasa or Akan-speak, is a dialect of the Age spoken primarily in southern and central Ghana by 11 million people. This number also includes speakers who use it as a second language.

This is why about 80% of the Ghanian population speaks the Twi language as their first or second language. About 80% of speakers Ghanian population use Twi as their first or second language.

Like most other western African languages, the Twi language is tonal and used as a second language in some parts of Africa. 

Conclusion

The tech giant Google is adding more languages as times shift to modernity to infuse a culture of inclusion and communication, for indigenous languages spoken in sparse areas. Its move to introduce 24 new languages in May 2022 has shed light on the importance of indigenous languages while emphasizing the need to include more languages in its vast collection of languages. 

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