Bangalore: Internet firm Google Inc. claims a new tool it has built allows users to translate content and Web pages in English to five Indian languages, and even edit and share the resulting content on the Web.
The tool could be a way to rapidly increase the number of pages with local language content on the Web. India’s low Internet user base is often attributed to the absence of enough content in local languages.
The so-called Translator Toolkit was initially designed to address the shortage of local language content in India but is now available in 47 global languages, including five in India. The five Indian languages in which it is available are Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.
Localizing the Web: Google Translator Toolkit members (from left) Sanjay Bhansali, Prasad Ram and Michael Galvez. Gireesh GV / Mint
India’s Internet user base is around 45 million compared with around 250 million in China, according to Internet and Mobile Association of India, an industry body.
Google estimates that there are around two million pages of Web content in Indian languages compared with billions of pages in English.
“This lowers the barrier to create content,” said Prasad Ram, India research and development head at Google. “Majority of Indian users are bilingual; if I want to share something on swine flu (which is written) in English with my mother in Kannada, it is easier now”.
The toolkit, which has been in the works for two years, allows users to improve the machine translation, and edit and provide suggestions, which the system improves during the next query.
“If someone wants to translate a Wikipedia article in Hindi, they can do it (now using the translation toolkit) and publish it too,” said Michael Galvez, product manager at Google.
“If you look at television and print, local content dominates. It is a question of time (for content to grow) and the hindrance has been basically PC (personal computer) penetration. That is the choke point,” said Sharad Sharma, entrepreneur in residence at Canaan Partners.
Sharma, a former India research and development head of Yahoo Inc., the smaller rival of Google, added that the new tool would actually allow users to add local content which would bring in more users online. “It is virtuous; the more content you have the more users you would see online.”