Google Adds Cross-Language Search To Translate
Google latest tweak to its Translate service may prove to be one of the more useful offerings the company has put out for a while, especially for those traveling abroad.
The buzz phrase coming out of Mountain View has been "search without boundaries," as it allows users to key in desired information in their own language and bring back results in another.
This "cross-language" feature, Google says, let’s an Arabic speaker search for New York restaurants. The results are translated and returned in Arabic alongside the original English results.
The new feature is available in English, Arabic, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, and traditional and simplified Chinese.
The Google crew that developed the function admits that automated translation isn’t perfect. It is, in their estimation, "usually good enough for you to obtain the gist of information in a language you might otherwise be unable to access."
They presume the feature will be especially useful to the international non-English-speaking audience as a majority of Internet content is in English.
On my limited test drive, a search for "opera in Venice" brought decent enough results. But a query for "bus from Mishima to Fuji station 5," translating from Japanese to English was quite disappointing.
It may be that you have to have the Kanji/Hiragana/Katakana character software, as the results brought back only a series of question marks. It may also be that Mishima is such a small town in Japan, that there’s little online about it.
However, that’s a really useful bit of information if you want a ride half way up Fuji for the night-hike to see the sunrise at the top.
(Word to the wise: If you think you want to climb Mt. Fuji at night, even in August, you don’t. It’s ugly, steep, and cold all the way up for 6 to 8 straight hours in really thin air. The top of the mountain is pretty neat though – there’s a post office up there from where you can mail a letter or postcard. But don’t expect there to be a bearded monk with words of wisdom and foul-tasting healing tea. The tea is $5 a thimble-full and the monks are too busy selling souvenirs to offer any sage-like advice.)