Google announced today that it has added Lao to its Google Translate repertoire, making it the 65th language the service supports.
Lao, sometimes called Laotion, is spoken in Laos, Thailand, the U.S., France, Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina. In Laos, it is the official language. As of 2006, there were a reported 5.22 million native speakers.
Google is keeping the "alpha" tag on Lao for the time being, as it's not quite where the company wants it to be. Google Translate Associate Product Manager Minqi Jiang says in a post on the Google Translate blog:
The Google Translate team is constantly working to improve automatic translations, both for languages that have been available for some time, and for currently unavailable languages whose translation quality have yet to meet our launch standards. This work includes collecting new data from which our system can learn and grow smarter; changing the algorithms behind Google Translate; and improving the grammaticality of translations. There are many languages we work on that are not there yet but that we hope to launch in the future.
Support for Lao meets our launch standards, but translation quality is at the lower end compared to that of other languages we offer. We therefore designate Lao with an “alpha” status until we can make further improvements. While our Lao translations will be usable in some situations, like providing an English reader with the gist of an article written in Lao, they will fail in other situations where more precise translations are needed. We need your feedback in order to improve the quality of Lao translations.
Google is calling upon users to help improve its translation of the language by providing alternate translations (by clicking on words or phrases of the translated sentence) or using the Google Translator Toolkit to upload translations.
Last month, Google added some new camera functionality to Google Translate for Android, making the service all the more helpful in travel situations. Now, you can take a picture of a sign that is written in an unfamiliar language, and get it translated.