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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Google’s AJAX Translation API
By Tony Ruscoe

Google has just released a new AJAX API which allows developers to easily add machine translation capabilities to their websites. Using the Google AJAX Language API, you can detect the language of a piece of text and translate it into any of the supported Google Translate languages.

As a simple example, you can translate the first few paragraphs of this post into Arabic, Chinese (Simplified or Traditional), Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish using the drop down at the end of the post (assuming you have JavaScript enabled in your browser).*

The translations are carried out by Google's own statistical machine translation system, which they switched to for all their languages pairs last year, so they're far from perfect but should give a good basic understanding of the text.

Around two years ago, at Google Press Day 2006, I asked Sergey Brin whether Google had any plans in the near future to integrate their statistical machine translation system with services such as Google News, Gmail, Google Talk and even Google Search. He said, “ would actually take some work to make that happen. But we're committed to doing it and I believe we will succeed.”

It seems Google is now slowly doing just that. Last year, Google released their cross-language search page and the Google Talk Translation Bots were released a couple of months ago. The Google Translate pages have also been seeing small updates for some time. (The Dictionary page was updated just recently.)

This is definitely a good move from Google but I'd like to see them open up a little more and allow developers to use the University Research Program for Google Translate which is currently only available to educational researchers.

See also: Google Translator: The Universal Language (2005)

[Via Official Google Blog and AJAX Search API Blog.]

*The API seemed to be having some issues filtering and translating the HTML tags and links, so I'm just translating the plain text content of the post instead. There also appears to be a limit on the length of text you can translate too – Google is using a GET rather than a POST to pass the text to their servers – which is why I'm only translating the first few paragraphs. To see how it's working, you can view the source of this page.


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