Speaking in Tongues at Google

Google has introduced nine new interface languages, allowing you to search in 47 languages other than English. The complete list of new languages includes Bengali, Malay, Malayalam, Indonesian, Welsh, Latin, Hungarian, Nepali, Telugu, Elmer Fudd, Hacker and Pig Latin.

Aysay againway? IGPAY ATINLAY?

Yes, Pig Latin. With the pig latin interface, you still have access to such familiar features as Ancedadvay Earchsay, Earchsay Ipstay, and the ever popular I'mway Eelingfay Uckylay button. With the Elmer Fudd interface, these are Wadvwanced Swearch, Sewch Tips, uh-hah-hah-hah, and I'm Feewing Wucky. Hacker, of course, offers 4DV4NC3D 534RC|-|, 534R(h H4(K5, and EYE Am f33|1n6|u(ky.

All fun aside, the other 44 interface languages should appeal to non-English speaking users. Google estimates that more than half of the 100 million queries it processes each day are in languages other than English.

Google is also working on machine translation of web pages. Conduct a search in English and if it returns web pages published in Spanish, German, French, Italian or Portuguese, you'll see a "translate this page" link directly next to the search result.

Clicking this link displays a framed page that has been automatically translated into English (text information only, not graphics). From this framed page, you can view the content translated into English, print the information, or return to the list of Google search results.

Google plans to gradually enable automatic translation of English pages into other languages. "Users of the Spanish version of Google now see a 'translate this page' link for web pages in English," according to Google spokesperson Cindy McCaffrey. Clicking the link generates the same options you see when translating non-English pages into English.

"The vision is that no matter what language your query is in, and no matter what language the document is in, we should [be able to” find the document for you and translate it for you," said Monika Henziger, Google's director of research, in a recent Salon interview.

Want to help out with making Google multi-lingual? Google has established a program where you can volunteer to translate part or all of any web page into any one of more than 100 different languages. All you need to do is sign up, and use Google's specially developed translation console.

Webmasters take note: Once Google has enough of any particular site translated, they will make it available in the language you are requesting. Using Google's translation program, it's not necessary to post actual pages to the web in different languages.

If you're interested in reaching a multi-national audience, it probably behooves you to engage a translator for the target languages of people you want to reach and take advantage of this program. You'll not only benefit from a broadened reach of potential users, you'll help Google with the overall goal of improving its machine translation capabilities for making all of the worlds languages accessible.

Google Preferences
Set your default interface language from this page. You may also restrict your search to specific languages, change the number of results displayed, enable a safe search filter, and specify that results open in a new window from this preferences page.

Translate Google Into Your Language
You can volunteer to translate Google's help information and search interface into your favorite language. There is no minimum commitment. You can translate a phrase, a page or our entire site.

Google À go-go
Monika Henziger, Google's director of research, talks about machine translation and other projects Google is working on to improve web search.

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About the author

Chris Sherman is a frequent contributor to several information industry journals. He's written several books, including The McGraw-Hill CD ROM Handbook and The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See, co-authored with Gary Price. Chris has written about search and search engines since 1994, when he developed online searching tutorials for several clients. From 1998 to 2001, he was About.com's Web Search Guide.