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  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Microsoft Translator Introduces Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi for UNESCO's International Mother Language Day

    • 5 Comments

    In our ongoing effort to empower language communities to preserve their languages and cultures, we are excited to introduce Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi to Microsoft Translator’s ever-growing list of supported languages. These language systems were developed in collaboration with community partners in Mexico, who created the automatic translations systems to permanently bridge the translation gap between these endangered languages and the rest of the world. The systems themselves were built using the Microsoft Translator Hub, a Translator product which is available for free to allow any group to create its own unique translation systems.

    Photo courtesy of Instituto Querestano de la Cultura y las Artes

    Using the Hub, our community partners took important steps to preserve their language and culture. The Yucatec Maya translation system was built by the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQROO), a university in the southwestern Mexican state of Quintana Roo that was created to provide higher education to the Maya population of the region. Native to the Yucatan region of Mexico and Belize, Yucatec Maya is spoken by fewer than 800,000 people, with less than 59,000 monolingual speakers. The language is descended from the language of the ancient Mayan empire, which is well-known for its art, architecture, as well as its expertise in astronomy.

    The Querétaro Otomi language system was created by the Instituto Queretano de la Cultura y las Artes (IQCA), an institute in western central Mexico whose mission is to encourage artistic and cultural development and to promote equity and equality of opportunity within the State of Querétaro. Querétaro Otomi is an endangered language from the region that is only spoken by 33,000 people and has fewer than 2,000 monolingual speakers.

    The release of Maya and Otomi helps to celebrate the UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day, an annual international event which aims “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.” According to UNESCO, “if nothing is done, half of 6,000-plus languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century.” Maya and Otomi are indigenous languages from Mexico which are both currently threatened. Although they are still in use, the number of speakers is decreasing and younger people are not speaking them as actively as their elders. The new automatic translation systems will help the Maya and Otomi people safeguard their language and culture for generations to come.

    Over the years, Translator has worked closely with a variety of language community partners to encourage language preservation and, through it, intercultural communication. In the past, these community partners have used the Hub to create translation systems for languages such as Hmong Daw, Welsh, and Urdu.

    The Hub allows organizations such as UIMQROO and IQCA to leverage the computing power of Microsoft Translator’s machine-learning back end as well as its existing translation models to create unique and customized translation systems. The Translator Hub is a powerful tool for organizations that have specific translation needs, such as language preservation. It also allows organizations to create domain-specific systems, including industry-specific translation systems (for instance, for the medical or financial sectors) and business-specific systems that are customized to the company’s internal style and terminology.

    In addition to the Hub, Translator also supports a wide variety of products to connect individuals across language barriers, including the Translator API, which can be used to translate web pages and apps in real time into 45+ languages, as well as powering the translation features in the Microsoft Office suite of products. Most recently, Microsoft Translator and Skype introduced Skype Translator, a next–generation speech-to-speech translation platform which allows users to converse in different languages in near-real time.

    To learn more about International Mother Language Day, and what Microsoft is doing to support technology on this front, please visit the Official Microsoft Blog.

    Learn More about the Translator Hub and Language Preservation:

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    A Window to the World, Bing Translator App for Windows Now Available

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    The Bing Translator app for Windows is available for download today. Designed from the ground up for Windows devices, the app places powerful translation technology at your fingertips by instantly translating content in more than 40 languages, at home, work or on-the-go. Whether utilizing your PC’s camera to deliver “augmented reality” translation, typing in a quick sentence or two, working offline when you are not connected or harnessing unique features of Windows to translate content from many other Windows apps, Bing Translator is a must have application for all your Windows devices.

    You can now download the free app from the Windows store here.

    Check out the app in action in the following video:

    The Bing Translator app is based on years of Microsoft Research’s investments in advancing machine learning – a way to find patterns that humans can’t see, helping people interpret the words and worlds around them.

    Translating content whether browsed, typed or scanned is nearly instantaneous. Just point your device’s camera at printed text and watch as the translation is automatically overlaid over the video stream - creating subtitles for everyday life. You can also type to translate with your keyboard and hear translations spoken with a native speaker's accent.
      

     
    The Translator app is the perfect companion when traveling.  The app can help overcome language barriers, even when there’s no internet connection. Save on expensive data plans when traveling with offline language packs for select languages so you can travel with confidence, even in the most remote locations. More language packs coming soon.

    The Share Charm lets you quickly translate highlighted text in any Windows 8 app, with Snap View you can multi-task while browsing, chatting or more by snapping Bing Translator to the right or left of your screen. With this unique feature, powerful translation technology is just a swipe away in Windows 8 no matter where you are – at your desk or on the go.

    We hope that this app becomes your window to the world, no matter where you are!

    - Vikram Dendi,
    Director of Product Management,
    Microsoft/Bing Translator – Microsoft Research

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Have you tried to translate that site today?

    • 8 Comments

    Translating a website can be tricky – especially if it is not one that you built. A year back at MIX, we helped webmasters and developers take a step towards delivering a seamless, well integrated translation experience using the translator widget and the APIs. Yet, there are still many sites out there that users still need to translate without the help of such technology. Thus the continued popularity of our webpage translator, and the bi-lingual viewer feature that it pioneered.

    While our webpage translator translates millions of pages every day, we keep an eye on pages that are problematic to translate and we look closely at user feedback. Our goal is to not just deliver a translated page, but also try to stay close to the fidelity and layout of the original. As web pages grow richer, adding layers of interactivity through increasingly complex javascript – they become more difficult for traditional proxy based translation services to handle.

    Some of you might have noticed a significant improvement in how the webpage translator handles certain web pages that it had not done so well in the past. A couple of weeks ago, we released an updated version of the webpage translator that  improves site compatibility and delivers better performance. If you have not tried it recently, we urge you to try any sites that you had not been able to get webpage translators to translate on this new release. As always, if you do find problems please don’t hesitate to contact us.

    Speaking of MIX, keep an eye on MIX 2010 this year. In addition to the all the buzz around Windows Phone, don’t miss out on this session. :-)

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Discover How to Build a Windows Phone 8 App with Microsoft Translator and Speech Synthesis

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    Windows Phone 8 introduces a host of new features, including speech synthesis. This is the perfect fit for Microsoft Translator and opens up exciting opportunities for developers as showcased in our November 12 blog post

    In the latest in our series of walkthroughs, we step you through everything you need to do to build a simple translation app that takes your text and translates it into a variety of different languages using the free Microsoft Translator APIs. It then uses the native speech synthesis in Windows 8 to ‘read out’ the translation with the correct pronunciation.

    The walkthrough takes you from soup to nuts in signing up for the free service, getting your credentials, installing and configuring the tools, designing, developing and testing your application.

    Check it out at:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/b/translation/p/windowsphone8.aspx

    The full source code for the app is available here:

    http://translator.blob.core.windows.net/msdnwalkthroughs/Transl8.zip

    Screenshot:

  • Microsoft Translator Team Blog

    Unveiling Breakthroughs in Real-Time Translation with Skype Translator

    • 4 Comments

    Earlier this evening Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., in  talk during the Code Conference, unveiled an early look at the Skype Translator app. This app represents a breakthrough in language translation jointly developed by Microsoft researchers and Skype engineers, bridging geographic and language barriers through the use of real-time speech-to-speech translation. The functionality combines Skype voice and instant messaging, Microsoft Translator and machine-learning based technologies for speech recognition that are used in Windows and Windows Phone Translation applications today.

    During Nadella’s conversation with Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg of the Re/code tech website relating to a new era of personal computing, he asked Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Lync and Skype, to join him on stage. While on stage, Pall demonstrated for the first time publicly the Skype Translator app, with Pall conversing in English with German-speaking Microsoft employee Diana Heinrichs.

    Watch the Demo

    Speech has been a natural evolution of the translation work that Microsoft has been delivering to consumers and businesses across a broad number of products and solutions. The work represents over a decade of work within Microsoft Research that has become a reality through a series of remarkable research advances in translation, speech recognition, and language processing. This demonstration is the next step in delivering the real time speech translation experience to users that Rick Rashid, then the worldwide head of Microsoft Research, demonstrated a year and a half ago.

    The Skype Translator app will available first on Windows 8 later this year as a limited beta.

    It has been an exciting day as we unveil this remarkable technology advancement that brings people one step closer to removing barriers of communication regardless of language or location!

    Learn More about Skype Translator

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