Google Adds Languages, Phone Book And More

Want your search engine to talk to you like a Swedish chef? The new "Bork Bork Bork" option is just one of new language interfaces you can set for Google. The search engine has also unveiled a new page translation option and a phone book feature.

From the Google preferences page, users can now find options to have Google speak to them in Afrikaans, Catalan, Czech and Russian, which are just some of the many language options that have been added. Much of the work is now being done by volunteers, who provide translations for words such as "search," "cached" and "search within results" in the language they are working on.

In addition to traditional languages, volunteers are currently working on releases for Elmer Fudd, Hacker and Klingon. Bork Bork Bork is already live. It makes Google speak like the Swedish chef from the Muppets (not like the failed US Supreme Court nominee, Robert H. Bork).

The language interface options I've discussed control how Google talks to you. In other words, Google can make its "Next" link at the bottom of the results page appear in whatever language you've selected. However, that language option won't carry through to the pages you view from Google's search results. For that to happen, you need a page translation option -- and there's good news here, because Google's just added one.

Next to the title of each search result, you'll now see a "Translate this page" link for any page originally written in Italian, French, German, Portuguese or Spanish. Selecting the link will bring up a translation of the page in English. Using the preferences page, you can even cause Google to automatically translate the page descriptions it displays into English for any page originally written in one of the languages I've named.

Be aware that the program is still in beta, so you might encounter bugs. Google also plans to add new languages and features, in the near future.

Leaving languages behind, another new feature at Google is the "PhoneBook" offering. Just enter the first and last name of someone you know, along with a US zip code, and Google will bring back any matching telephone and address information available from public records at the top of the search results page.

Up to two matches are displayed, and if there are more than this, the rest are available by selecting the "More listings" option. In addition, the address information links to online maps.

Other ways to trigger phone book information include entering a name with a telephone area code, US city or US state. For example,"george w bush texas" brings back two Dubya's that live in Texas, though I strongly suspect neither of them is the US president. You can also enter just a phone number to see who it is registered to, turning Google into a cool reverse look-up directory.

Speaking of telephones, Google is also working on something it calls "Voice Search." This would allow you to speak into a telephone and see your results appear in a traditional browser or WAP phone. There's no release date yet for this service, but Google already has a partnership with BMW to build it into future versions of their cars.

In some other Google developments:

+ Google Korea has now gone live, and Korean users will eventually be automatically directed to it.

+ Google's AdWords program has now been released for its German site. You'll find a link on the Google Germany home page, with instructions in German on enrolling in the program.

+ Google, which has been providing backup results to and 17 other Yahoo sites, is now also going to be powering secondary results at Yahoo Japan.

+ Dr. Eric E. Schmidt, currently chairman and CEO of Novell, has joined Google's board of directors as chairman.


Google Preferences

Set your preferred language and other Google options here.

Translate Google Into Your Language

Hold on there, all of you who want to make Google speak Picard just so the search button will say "Engage." When you sign up, you have to select a language you are fluent in from a preset list. Once enrolled, that's the language you get to work on. You can't work on languages not already on the list, and you won't be able to work on any language you've not initially said you were fluent in. What if the language you want isn't on the list? Try contacting Google first using the email address on the translation FAQ page, tell them what you want to do, and see if they'll add it. If so, then enroll.

Translate Web Pages Automatically With Google

More information about the page translation feature can be found here.

Google Special Features: PhoneBook

More about the Google phone book.

Google PhoneBook Name Removal

The phone and address information Google provides comes from public records, but you may prefer to make it less accessible via Google. If so, use the form above. This will cause Google to suppress display of your information.

Google Korea

Google Germany

Novell's Schmidt joins Google at critical time, March 26, 2001

Schmidt is expected to add a firm business hand to Google, which also continues to predict it will be profitable later this year. Good information here on Google's business activities. For the first time that I've seen, Google discloses some actual figures as to how much it earns from its deal with Yahoo: around several million dollars per quarter. Google's income is also split roughly between search licensing, as with Yahoo, and advertisement sales on the Google site itself.