INTERNET giant Google has boosted the profile of the Gaelic tongue by adding it to the languages translated by the search engine.Google Translate announced yesterday that Scots Gaelic would be one of 13 new languages available on what is generally reckoned to be the world’s best language translation site.

According to Google Translate, Scots Gaelic is spoken mostly in the Scottish Highlands of the UK and “was introduced by Irish settlers in the 4th century AD”.

Besides Gaelic, the other languages Google now translates are Amharic, Corsican, Frisian, Kyrgyz, Hawaiian, Kurdish (Kurmanji), Luxembourgish, Samoan, Shona, Sindhi, Pashto and Xhosa.

Google Translate claims the addition of these languages will “help bring a combined 120 million new people to the billions who can already communicate with Translate all over the world”. In total Google now translates more than 100 languages.

Google Translate are also appealing for help from people fluent in Scots Gaelic.

They said: “Beyond the basic criteria that it must be a written language, we also need a significant amount of translations in the new language to be available on the web.

“From there, we use a combination of machine learning, licensed content and the Translate Community.”

The latter are people and organisations which feed into Google Translate so that more and better translations can be achieved.

Google Translate works by scanning the web for billions of already translated texts, and then uses machine learning to identify statistical patterns at enormous scale, so that Google’s machines can ‘learn’ the language.

Google Translate said: “As already existing documents can’t cover the breadth of a language, we also rely on people…in Translate Community to help improve current Google Translate languages and add new ones, like Frisian and Kyrgyz. So far, over three million people have contributed approximately 200 million translated words.

“For each new language, we make our translations better over time, both by improving our algorithms and systems and by learning from translations within Translate Community.”

Google Translate added: “Today’s update will be rolling out over the coming days. The move which will introduce possibly millions of people to Scots Gaelic has been warmly welcomed in Scotland."

Minister for learning, science and Scotland’s languages Alasdair Allan said: “Gaelic is part of our identity and culture and is used every day in communities across Scotland and we welcome Google’s move to make the language more accessible to people around the world. “The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the teaching of the language and inspiring the next generation of Gaelic speakers.

“Our aim is to increase the numbers learning, speaking and using the language and hope that the Google Gaelic translation tool can make an important contribution towards this.”

Bruce Robertson, chief executive of Bòrd na Gàidhlig, which promotes the language, said: “This is another significant milestone in the re-emergence and normalisation of Gaelic as one of the global languages in use in 2016. This means that millions of people can access translation facilities online which can only be good for the language as well as those who wish to use it or understand it.”

John Morrison, chief executive of An Comunn Gàidhealach, said: “I am pleased Google has added Gaelic to the languages available on the Google Translate service. The rise of the internet has allowed a worldwide Gaelic community to emerge online and it is fitting that speakers in places such as Nova Scotia or Australia, who are distanced from the Scottish Gaelic community, are able to access a Gaelic translation service such as this online. This service will assist learning, increase confidence in our communities across the world and ensures that our language receives equal treatment online to that provided to other minority languages. An Comunn Gàidhealach is pleased to commend this new service.”

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