Having not seen any new successful product announcements from Google for last year or so I was feeling Google is losing its magic touch, it is getting bogged down by its own size and the return of Larry Page is going to do little to change course. When I make the previous comment, I am not counting Android or Google Chrome announcements made me in recent Google I/O – those are enhancements, what I am talking is fundamental innovation. But today something happened that made pause this thought for a while and give credit to Google for its basic computer science research and its leadership position. It is the release of support in Google Translate for 5 Indic Languages including my mother tongue “Tamil”.
Though many research labs with their computer scientists & linguists both in India & outside are working on this for more than last 3 decades, having a publicly accessible Tamil translator has always remained a dream. I have personally met many of these great minds during the INFITT Tamil Internet conferences, but unfortunately, they were all few critical steps away from completing their great work due to resource constraints. Many of these projects were also happening in silos – Private firms research arms, Government funded academic labs, Universities Linguistic departments and so on.
Though it is in Alpha stage and is far from perfect, it is a big day for all Tamilians. What Google has released today at Translate.Google.com is two-way translation (To Tamil & From Tamil) :
English (and other languages) to Tamil: The “Tamil” only speakers of Tamil Nadu & around the world can now access and enjoy the vast majority of World Wide Web without being hampered by not having English proficiency.
Tamil to English (and other languages): The entire world can now enjoy the timeless treasures in Tamil literature and written by Tamil poets.