Voice Search in underrepresented languages

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 | 10:57 AM


Today we’re introducing Voice Search support for Zulu and Afrikaans, as well as South African-accented English. The addition of Zulu in particular represents our first effort in building Voice Search for underrepresented languages. We define underrepresented languages as those which, while spoken by millions, have little presence in electronic and physical media, e.g., webpages, newspapers and magazines.

We believe that the speech research community needs to start working on many of these underrepresented languages to advance progress and build speech recognition, translation and other Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies. The development of NLP technologies in these languages is critical for enabling information access for everybody. Indeed, these technologies have the potential to break language barriers.

Check out the Google Research Blog for more details.

Salani kahle!**

* “Welcome” in Afrikaans
** “Stay well” in Zulu

Posted by Pedro J. Moreno, Staff Research Scientist and Johan Schalkwyk, Senior Staff Engineer


Tyler Dewar said...

Is Google also supporting the Tibetan language in search or on other platforms?

K. Thomas said...

When can we expect this in Norwegian?

pbv302 said...

Nice...but how many people speaking Zulu have or even can afford a Smartphone device?
I think there is not so many people speaking Swedish but more of us are using/can afford a smartphone. Same thing with a lot of other, not yet supported European languages...

Bassem said...

I think there are other languages should have supported before Zulu such as Arabic. For sure there are much more Arabs using smartphones than Zulus. Please give more support to Arabic Language.

Unknown said...

What about Southern (US) accented English? Google voice does not transcribe my friends well.

Thank you

Unknown said...

An important point that has been overlooked by my swedish and arabic friends is that there are a lot of zulu speaking people who have no other choice but to use voice for information retrieval due to illiteracy, yet a lot of swedish, arabic, norwegian..., usually have other options including internet, print, etc. Africa has a rapidly growing usage for mobile phones coupled with a very high oral tradition amongst the users.

Urav said...

I'm posting on my hamster's behalf. As we (the hamster species) are much populous than arabs, we should have our language (scrunchcrunch version 2.3) implemented in google phone.
While the subject is to give some room to minorities' languages, it's amazing that some people, like that bassem, used this chance to talk about them, about them. Sad and ridiculous.

wjmay said...

I am Afrikaans. How can I get my US based Android phone to switch to Afrikaans for searches.

Baie Dankie.

Anonymous said...

Now this is just plain ignorance and i take it as an insult. The comments here are hurtful and seem to be based on your own little perceptions. Let me start this off, putting down google's decision to start with zulu and no your own is really spiteful and rude. I'm a black South African, like the majority of blacks i can speak five of the eleven official languages and i can hear everyone of them, while this might seem weird and superhuman to outside countries its really not over here. What we have is unity, in europe/america taking on a second language like spanish or french is a really big challenge bit here we don't even have to take classes, just befriend a person, learn about them and the language barrier is obsolete. What i'm getting at is, we understand what the concepts of unity and ubuntu is better than most.

Now the perception of not many zulu speakers or any language besides english are computer illiterate. First off, no one here besides some whites in cape town's mother tongue is english, no area you'll find. English in schools is taught as a second language. Around 80-90% of south africans families own a cellphone. Our cellphones come with english as a default and other languages optional. Now to hear you say not that many zulus own smartphone is plain stupid. Do you know what our president speaks? Yes he speaks english in press meetings and the french president doesn't but then again, how many languages does the french president speak? It really boils down to your upbringing and what you see on CNN and o don't blame you but i do blame you for ignorance.

I applaud google for this project, now Mandela can be connected (yes he speaks zulu too, like... everyone)

Spyridon M said...

When can we expect this in Greek?

A said...

Wow that's cool
Well not if it works as well as it dose in English. I don't know any one who speaks ether of these languages so I'll never know. But don't you think you ought to try to perfect it in English first oh that's it you live in a little tec bubble and you and your friends keep telling each other how awesome you are doing we'll get around to making it actually work after we get done playing BS Google sucks