What exactly changed in Google Translate for Tigrinya
As you can see from Google Translate
As of September 2020, Google Translate has 109 supported languages and 60 languages in development
phase. Tigrinya has been added to the
development phase on Sept 11 2020. This does not mean we can use Google Translate in Tigrinya right away, it means
Tigrinya speaking community can now
contribute and help Google acquire enough sentences in Tigrinya. Once enough sentences are translated the service will be available publicly
I don't see Tigrinya in Google Translate, why are people saying it is in Google
Yes, Tigrinya is in Development phase. It is only available in Google Translate Community.
This may not sound much of a news. But for us, who have been busy on this for years,
it is a huge news. Many of us worked hard to satisfy the requirement needed to include Tigrinya
in Google Translate. Now that we have it, it is a good news, and worthy talking about it.
We have to make the best out of it now, by helping the process as described below.
What needs to be done?
Google Translate is a machine learning algorithm. It has many English sentence inside the
application, if we translate as many sentences as possible to Tigrinya. It will use these
translations to learn about Tigrinya spelling and grammar. The more sentence we translate the better.
Once it reaches some acceptable learning stage, it will be able to translate
any random sentence from English or other languages to Tigrinya.
At the moment Google Translate does not have enough sentences translated into Tigrinya. As member of Tigrinya
community we all are responsible in changing this fact.
What is Tigrinya Translate in tigrinyatranslate.com?
We have been asking Google to add Tigrinya into Google Translate for many years. At some point in
2016 we were tired of waiting and we start to do it ourselves. Google also has a paid product called
AutoML Translation which works similar to Google Translate. If you have your own list of English
sentences and the translation in Tigrinya, you can feed it to AutoML Translation and it will start
to work like Google Translate. For the past 4 years we have been
building this and make it available for people to translate 5 different languages to Tigrinya. This is
available in tigrinyatranslate.com.
Moving from tigrinyatranslate.com to Google Translate will have two benefits. 1) since Google
Translate allows community contribution it will be better over time. 2) Google Translate is
free, so we don't have to pay for AutoML translation any more.
Many people have told us tigrinyatranslate.com is useful to them. Hence we shall keep it running until Tigrinya is
fully active in Google Translate.
How to do it?
Google Translate has been an important
part of our digital life. Adding Tigrinya to Google Translate is a new chapter
to Tigrinya digitization and it need to be taken serious.
When a new language is added to Google, most countries ask their universities to
organize a campaign and translate the majority
of the sentence to their respective language. Such campaign will include many students and alumni working for several hrs per week.
Back in 2015, The Philippines had similar campaign for their
language and translated 750,000 sentences in few weeks.
The situation for Tigrinya might be different, but thanks
to the digital world, we can still organize similar campaign to get the job done.
Such campaign will require many volunteers working on the different part of the task as follows.
translators: those who translate sentences to Tigrinya
validators: those who check the translated sentences
ambassadors: those who create awareness to the population, and bring more volunteers.
language experts: those who answer Tigrinya spelling and grammatical questions. During the translation, many Tigrinya questions will come, we need Tigrinya language experts to help answer these questions.
IT experts: those who can answer technical questions like installation, Tigrinya keyboard, Google account setup/login, documenting common questions and answers...
Any one who has a skill in any of the above can participate.
How can I contribute as a translator or validator?
3. Search for Tigrinya to add to the list of languages you know.
4. Select Tigrinya and click Continue.
5. You can now translate, or validate already translated sentences.
Select Translate Or Validate
6. You can now enter the translation sentence in Tigrinya as below and
click submit. If the English sentence is difficult you can skip
How can I contribute as ambassador?
Many people already produce awareness through Youtube, facebook post and other digital media. Many thanks to them. If you are a youtuber or active in social media, please share this and help bring more people who can translate, validate or help answer Tigrinya related questions. This work is not something
we can leave it to few people. We have to work collectively, building awareness
is very important.
How can I contribute as language expert?
What is the correct Tigrinya? is a difficult question to answer. But this may be relevant when teaching kids a language in a school. But not as relevant when teaching
a computer program. Google Translate is a software build on top of AI (Artificial Intelligence) Technology. AI technology is robust with respect to different dialects, but sensitive on other aspects. So far we have identified some of the common mistakes we should avoid in order not to confuse the
software. The list is available in this page. If you are a language expert, or NLP researcher, we like to hear from you to improve the recommendation list.
How can I contribute as IT expert?
People might have technical difficulties login in to the contribution website, or installing Geez keyboard. We need to help them.
If you know better geez keyboard for windows or mobile, share with the group.
We also need to understand how google translate works internally and what is recommending way to resolve ambiguity - when it rises.
For example: Gender related questions, abbreviations... how should we handle it from Google point of view.
Some of the English words I don't know?
Best way is to search the word in a dictionary.
translate words from 8 different languages to Tigrinya. One word may
have more than one meaning, choose the one that fits the sentence. If the
returned Tigrinya word is not exactly what you want, you can click on the
Tigrinya word to get more thesaurus (similar words) to it.
You can also ask questions in these two facebook groups that specialize in Tigrinya.
How to keep Tigrinya uniform and avoid
The translations that we are creating in Google Translate will be used to team the software build by
Google. We have to keep in mind that we are teaching a computer. To avoid confusing the computer,
we should follow few guidelines. Here are few of them.
More is available here
Avoid ሠ ፀ ኀ This are not used in Tigrinya. We should avoid them. Use ሰ፡ ጸ፡ ሀ፡ instead.
Unlike Amharic these characters have different pronunciations. Use them accordingly. Know the difference
ሀ / ሄ - አ/ኣ - ሀ/ሐ eg. በርሀ good / በርሄ not good. ኣስመራ good / አስመራ not good.
Some times we prefer to use Amharic word, even
already have a good Tigrinya word. Eg. ሞክሮ (instead of ፈተኖ). We have to keep Tigrinya distinct from Amharic, otherwise 'the language detection' part of the
software will have difficulty detecting if a text is
Tigrinya or Amharic.
Watch out for spoken vs written spelling, eg. ሎሚ መዓልቲ / not ሎመዓንቲ. More example are available
Gender bias: English can be written without gender, but Tigrinya, French, Spanish can not.
Google Translate try to fix the
gender bias at the software level
As translators we can help in this regard. It is OK for a phrase to have multiple translations. Some of us,
can use Feminine form and others can use Masculine form. This way the translation software has both forms.
For example if all female translators use only feminine form they would say - "How have you been?" as ከመይ ቀኒኺ?
and the male translators can use "How have you been?" as ከመይ ቀኒኻ?
This way Google translate has both forms and they will use one or the other depending on the context.
But what we should not do is ከመይ ቀኒኻ/ኺ, because the translation software does not understand ኻ/ኺ as substitution.
Obviously: You need geez keyboard to contribute. Do not translate using Latin alphabet.
You can install Geez keyboard for Windows and Mobile.
See this instruction video for a step by step installation guide.
NOTE: This is not to dictate one type of Tigrinya over the other. However, if we write Tigrinya in a random and based on
our-own preferred dialect, the end-result will be a conflicting Tigrinya, which will easily confuse Google's translation program
The more uniform the sentences are the best the translation will be.