Google About to Knock Down a Huge Language Barrier

Heh. Almost a year to the day that I made this post

…this is why Google has their SMTS system. Imagine the day where you can enter “Replace Chain on my bicycle” into Google and it returns the results to you with content from multiple languages, automatically translating your keywords (bicycle = bicyclette) for the query and then translating the results.

…comes word that it won’t be long until Google launches a new feature that will allow you to return results from pages in multiple languages based on your single search term.

I opened up my news reader this morning and the first article that showed up was this one from John Yunker‘s “Global by Design“. He points to a slightly more detailed article on one of the Wired blogs which explains:

Search in any French and ask to see results in English (drop-down menus let you pick which ever two languages you need). You’ll get a two-column view of results — on the left are the English results translated into French on the fly, and on the right are the English pages in their original language.

So the search won’t quite be as elegant as an invisible/seamless integration into the main Google search yet but still an interesting development nonetheless.

It’ll be interesting to see how “obvious” they’ll make this new feature when it launches. The challenge with Statistical Machine translation is it takes a huge amount of horsepower to run, this means it’s just not practical to offer this automatically on every search Google does.

So a good step towards knocking down one of the biggest remaining language barriers – they’re punching a whole in the wall and it’s only a matter of time until they pretty much knock it down entirely.