Our team is celebrating a major milestone today - last week we successfully transitioned all of our translation services to technology developed right here in Microsoft Research!
As some of you may have noticed, up until last week, some of our languages were still supported by a third party technology for general domain requests. Here's the summary of what this release means:
This release is the combination of all the effort that the team has put into machine translation, not only over the past months, but literally over the past years. We are eager to hear back from our users - try out the system today and let us know what you think!
The free Bing Translator app for Windows Phone continues to be one of the most popular and best reviewed applications for the Windows Phone – surpassing a million downloads and garnering average ratings between 4 and 5 stars since release. Combining Augmented Reality Translation using your camera, speech & text translation, word-of-the-day live tiles and a travel optimized offline mode the app has received rave reviews and has been highlighted as one of the most innovative translation apps on any platform.
For the past few weeks the team has been heads down getting the app ready and tested for the new phones running Windows Phone 8, and we are pleased to announce that owners of the new Windows Phone devices are now able to download the app from the App Store.
You can download from the marketplace here.
As a Windows Phone 8 user, you will also discover a new translator “lens” whenever you launch your camera – allowing you to quickly access the camera mode translation functionality of the app.
For those of you who are new to the app, here is a behind-the-scenes look:
We hope you find the app useful as you navigate an increasingly multilingual universe.
- Vikram Dendi, Director of Product Management, Microsoft/Bing Translator
Klingon* is now a supported option on the Bing Translator site, allowing you to translate text snippets and web pages to and from Klingon. It is also available within the Translator widget, allowing Klingon visitors of your site to see it in their language. Bing Translator for Windows Phone added Klingon as a supported language, for text mode input/output and camera mode output. On the Bing Translator site you can also choose to translate to both Latin-script Klingon and to plqaD (the Klingon script). Please note that if you are translating from Klingon, you would need to explicitly select the language (rather than rely on Auto-detect).
This system has been built as a labor of love, in close partnership with members of the Klingon Language Institute (KLI) headed by Dr.Lawrence Schoen, Prof. Marc Okrand, the inventor of the Klingon language, many other Klingon enthusiasts inside and outside Microsoft. We received fantastic support from our fellow Star Trek fans at Paramount and CBS.
Building a new translation system from scratch is a challenging affair, requiring a large amount of training documents, many iterations of training the engine, reviewing and evaluating, and repeating this many times. What you initially get is mostly unintelligible, and with continued learning comes the improvement – both in vocabulary and in fluency. While there is a great amount of training material for such a system in mainstream languages like English, French or German, Klingon is a language that does not (yet!) have comparable volume of “parallel” (translated) text, or even material in Klingon alone. Our friends in the community were able to help us gather what is available, and used the Microsoft Translator Hub to train the initial engine. Members of the community were then able to review, critique and correct the translation errors this infant system was making. These corrections directly influenced the next training run, and thus the system has been getting better every day. Given its infancy, and the distance it has yet to travel to achieve the necessary fluency and vocabulary – Klingon will stay as an experimental language in Bing Translator for the time being.
We wish to thank the Klingon language community, Prof.Okrand, Dr.Schoen and CBS/Paramount for helping make this a reality. If you are a Klingon speaker and wish to join the Hub community built around this effort, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Not everyone can have Lieutenant Uhura translate for them, so we hope Bing Translator’s Klingon support comes handy next time you are in a pinch.
lupDujHomwIj lubuy'moH gharghmey
- Vikram Dendi & the Translator team at Microsoft
Update (2:52 PM): Added note about auto-detection, and other minor edits.
* Klingon is a trademark of CBS Studios Inc.
Here is a translated version of the original Klingon Empire Announcement:
tlhIngan Hol 'oH qIb Hol wa'DIch'e' mughlaHbogh Bing Translator 'e' maq tlhIngan yejquv, boqbogh tlhIngan Hol yejHaD, Microsoft je.
Klingon is the first galactic language which can be translated by Bing Translator, announces the Klingon High Council, in alliance with the Klingon Language Institute and Microsoft.
qaStaHvIS DISmey, yuQjIjDIvI' luSuchtaHvIS tlhInganpu''e', Qatlhqu' tlhIngan Hol mughmeH 'ej tera' Holmey mu'tlhegh lIngmeH Qu', nuja' tlhInganpu'. tera' Holmey rurbe'chu' tlhIngan Hol, 'ej 'oH HaDtaH tera'ngan law'. wejmaH tera' Sep, Hoch puH'a' je Dab HaDwI'pu'. qIb ghatlh tlhIngan Hol, tlhIngan tIgh je 'e' 'agh ngoDvam.
For years, Klingons have told us that the task of translating Klingon and producing sentences in Earth languages while visiting the UFP is very difficult. Klingon is truly unlike Earth languages, and many Earthlings (continue to) study it. Students (of Klingon) live in thirty different Earth regions (countries) and all great landmasses. This fact demonstrates the galactic dominance of Klingon language and the Klingon Way.
tlhIngan Hol chelta'mo' Bing Translator, qIb lengwI'vaD, tlhIngan wo' SuchwI'vaD je nuH 'ut mojbej mughwI'. Hoch SepDaq, tera'nganvaD tlhIngan Hol, tlhIngan tIgh je lIH Bing Translator mughmeH laHmey. pIj mughwI' lo'chugh taghwI', nom tlhIngan Hol pab pIn moj.
Because Bing Translator has added Klingon, the translator will certainly become and essential weapon (tool) for (the) galactic traveler and (the) visitor to the Klingon Empire. In every region (country), the translation abilities of Bing Translator will introduce Earthlings to the Klingon language and the Klingon Way (culture). If beginners frequently use the translator, they will quickly become grammarians of the Klingon language.
Qo'noS Qombogh muD, tuj'a', Debmey tIn je SIQlaH tera'nganpu'. pIraQSIS Qaw'lu'mo' choHpu' Qo'noS 'e' leghlaH je. Bing Translator lo'taHvIS lengwI', lengDI' bel, 'ej roD batlhHa' vangbe'laH 'ej tIgh chach junlaH. Microsoft Bing Translator, qum chaw' je ghajchugh «SuvwI' lengmey» lengwI', tlhIngan SuvmeH tIgh 'ut ghojlaH, qagh SoplaH ghopDu'Daj lo'taHvIS, 'ej pIjHa' QumHa'.
Earthlings will be able to endure (experience) the quaking (turbulent) atmosphere, great heat and large deserts of Qo'noS. They will also be able to see that Qo'noS has changed due to the destruction of Praxis. While the traveler uses Bing Translator, he will be comfortable while travelling, and will usually be able to not act dishonorably and avoid cultural emergencies. With Microsoft Bing Translator and a government permit, "Warrior Tours" travelers can learn essential Klingon fighting, eat qagh with their hands and infrequently miscommunicate.
che'ronDaq mughwI' mu'tlheghmey, mu'mey je tobta' tlhIngan Hol yejHaD. jIjDI' tlhIngan Hubbeq, 'ejyo' je, toy'beH mughwI'. 'e' poQbej SuvwI' Hol. DaH not Hegh SuvwI' «HIjol» mughHa'DI' boq beq 'ej «HIQoj» mojDI'. taHmeH tlhIngan wo''a' HoSghaj, lI'chu' Bing Translator mughmeH laHmey.
The Klingon Language Institute has tested the translator's sentences and words on the battlefield. When the Klingon Defense Force and Starfleet cooperate, the translator will be ready to serve. A warrior language certainly requires that. Now warriors will never die when "Beam me up!" is mistranslated by an alliance crew and becomes "Beam me out!" In order that the powerful great Klingon Empire continue, the translation abilities of Bing Translator will be supremely useful.
· In celebration of International Mother Language Day, we are pleased to announce the addition of the Hmong language to our list of supported languages, made possible by a close partnership with the Hmong community. Anyone can now try out the new language on the Bing Translator site, or call it via the Microsoft Translator web service (Hmong Daw, language code mww). Hmong Daw is the dialect of Hmong the system supports, also known as White Hmong.
Instrumental to this effort were members of the Hmong community, who were able to leverage new tools from Microsoft Translator to help preserve and revitalize their language online. These new tools, currently in beta, enable automatic translation support for additional languages, or building higher quality systems for specific terminology and style in the established languages.
The addition of the Hmong language is an example of the first scenario: Members of the community utilized existing translated material and new features of Microsoft Translator to train a new translation engine. This leveraged Microsoft Translator’s learning abilities, which can learn how to translate from a set of parallel documents (same document in two languages), dictionaries and texts in the language to translate to (Hmong in this case). In addition to teaching the engine a new language, they also involved members of the community, partners and collaborators to create and review improved versions of the automated translation system, and collect qualitative feedback about each “trained” system. Deploying a system that reaches a certain level of quality allows seamless use with the standard Microsoft Translator APIs, and many scenarios powered by the API, like the web translation widget. Feedback that is generated through these scenarios can be utilized again in the training process – creating a virtuous loop for improving the translation quality. Stay tuned for more details about these new tools/features.
Once again, on International Mother Language day, we congratulate the Hmong community on their accomplishment. We are looking forward to working with many more partners and language communities in the near future.
Did you know that MSN messenger recently became* is the number one instant messenger in the world? Last summer, thanks to the efforts of Helvecio on our team, the MTBot prototype project quietly launched – to provide a glimpse to the community of 28.6 million unique messenger users what might be possible when you combine machine translation technology with instant messaging.
The MTBot prototype project was released in May 2007 with the main goal to try to understand how useful machine translation would be in IM conversations. The bot acts as a human translator, participating in conferences and translating messages as they are sent by all parties.
A typical usage scenario would be something like this: let's assume you have a friend in Japan that does not speak English... Well, you would add MTBotemail@example.com to your Live messenger buddy list, wait until the bot accepts your request (by switching status to Online) and then you would start your conversation by sending the "Hello" message... The Bot is going to wake up, and display a list of languages - enter "ja" for Japanese. Once it gets a valid connection the Bot will tell you to invite your friend to join the conversation. That's it... From this point on, everything you type will be translated from English to Japanese, and everything your friend types will be translated from Japanese to English.
Another typical use is as portable translator: using Messenger from any Smartphone a user can translate simple sentences when traveling to other countries.
As with any prototype effort, do keep in mind that this is experimental and there is a possibility the bot might be offline from time to time. The usual caveats about the quality of machine translation also apply.
We always appreciate your feedback and suggestions – so feel free to do so on this thread.
* Update: The link pointing to the data on Messenger becoming the most used IM client is from around when (2003-04) it first claimed that crown. Messenger has continued that trend since then. (Thanks to our keen eyed readers for catching that one!)