In what could be a boon to earthquake relief efforts, Google added Haitian Creole to its automatic translation services. That comes on top of the $1 million the company pledge it will donate.
Although in life-or-death situations, having real humans check emergency communications may be more reliable than computer algorithms, machine translation could help for less immediate needs.
Google Translate takes a statistical, rather than rule-based approach, toward translating texts. It analyzes millions of documents written in multiple languages, such as a single book that’s been translated into 20 or 30 languages or official United Nations documents in multiple languages. Patterns that emerge out of those comparisons form the basis for probable future translations. Carnegie Mellon University, Krengle.net and Haitisurf.com provided the data to train Google Translate in Haitian Creole.
We covered a big relief effort last week called Project 4636 that crowdsources Haitian-Creole speaking volunteers from around the world to translate and refer emergency text messages in real-time (see video below).