Google Translate is a useful tool for casual translations. The platform boasts a robust algorithm that covers most of the languages spoken around the world, ranging from Spanish and French to Mandarin and Japanese. While the system is effective to get the gist of the meaning for languages around Europe and the Far East, it is severely lacking for native languages in Africa and Central Asia. With the emerging economic growth in Africa and with the recent Iran deal, when it comes to translating from and into these languages, your only option is to seek professional help!
At the moment, there are over 27 languages opens in a new window that are not supported by Google Translate. For businesses that are considering international professional branding and product or website localization, we never recommend the use of Google Translate! But if you use the engine for internal consumption, it’s important to know which languages the engine has a difficult time handling. When addressing such gaps or when requiring professional work that you are proud to publish, it is worth considering a professional translation service. Such companies can help establishments preserve their brands and products during global expansion.
With that in mind, below are five languages that Google Translate does not cover properly.
Pashto draws its roots from the southeastern Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian languages. Spoken by over 40 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, one of the possible reasons why Google does not support the language is due to lack of economic importance. However, businesses in the security or civil defense sector may find Pashto translation services useful. The three main varieties of the language include the following: Northern Pashto (spoken mostly in Pakistan), Central Pashto (also spoken mostly in Pakistan) and Southern Pashto (spoken mainly in Afghanistan).
Cantonese is one of the most significant Chinese dialects that is spoken by over 55 million people in China. The language presents several linguistic complexities that makes it very difficult to translate autonomously. Seeing that there is great demand for Cantonese translations for businesses and entrepreneurs who are interested in tapping into the thriving Chinese market (particularly in Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macau), Google recently expressed its views on supporting translation for Cantonese in the near future. This massive undertaking will probably take some time to develop, and in-depth translations may still be questionable in the early stages of the release.
Often referred to as Lhasa Tibetan, the language is spoken extensively by over 1.2 million locals in China and Nepal (Upper Mustang). It is the official language of the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Regulated by the Committee for the Standardization of the Tibetan Language, its conservative properties and limited usage outside of the native region makes direct translation difficult to execute. Moreover, internal and political conflicts in the area has prevented the spread of the local language, making the availability of expert translation services very limited.
Russian Languages (Kyrgyz, Tatar and Bashkir)
Google Translate has serious limitations when it comes to support for a range of Russian languages. Tatar is spoken by 6.5 million residents in the Russian state of Tatarstan and over 500,000 individuals in Crimea. Kyrgyz and Bashkir are widely used by 5.5 million locals. Yandex, a leading Russian search engine, offers online translation services for all three languages.
As mentioned earlier, Google’s translation platform lacks coverage for a handful of African languages. One of these is Amharic, a Semitic language extensively spoken in Ethiopia (it is also the official language of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia). After Arabic, it is considered to be the second-most circulated Semitic language with over 22 million speakers worldwide. According to the American Community Survey (ACS) from the Census Bureau opens in a new window, Amharic is the most common African language in the following states: California, New Mexico and Washington (just to name a few). Outside of the U.S., the language is widely spoken in Israel.
Need help in any of the above languages? Contact us!
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