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Breaking Through the Language Barrier

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Credit: Computer Science For Fun

IBM and other technology firms are researching ways to translate online content. IBM's n.Fluent project is developing software designed to instantly translate the Internet, and IBM's Salim Roukos says that researchers have developed a Web page interface that facilitates automatic page translation when the user types in the URL.

"The ability to translate URLs is something that our customers love a lot, because once you translate the page, you can click on all the links and suddenly you are exploring the foreign language Web as an English speaker," Roukos says.

Because vernacular and jargon presents a problem for translation software, n.Fluent has been designed to learn from its errors and pick up scientific terms used within IBM. This is achieved by opening up the project to hundreds of thousands of IBM staffers, using crowdsourcing to tap their collective wisdom and feedback.

Meanwhile, Google is working on a tool to fully translate Web pages and searches. "Imagine what it would be like if there was a tool built into the search engine which translated my search query into every language and then searched the entire world's Web sites," says Google's Marissa Mayer. "And then invoked the translation software a second and third time — to not only then present the results in your native language, but then translated those sites in full when you clicked through."

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