Google’s Zulu translator is officially live

Google announced earlier this week that it has added nine new languages to its online translation tool, Google Translate. The total number of languages in Google Translate now numbers 80, but the highlight here – at least for us South Africans – is that one of the new languages is Zulu. Or isiZulu, to you abafana namantombazane.

Zulu is the second Southern African language to be added to Google Translate. The first was Afrikaans, despite the fact that it is spoken by far fewer people than Zulu. According to Statistics South Africa and the 2011 census results, Afrikaans is spoken by 6.85-million individuals. Zulu, on the other hand, is the most-spoken African language in the country, spoken by 11.59-million people.

In total, the nine new languages added to Google Translate have 200-million speakers across the world. The other eight languages joining Zulu are: Nigeria’s Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Those planning on getting captured by Somalian pirates any time soon can also start building an online phrasebook using the Somali option in Translate. Those African languages are joined by three from Asia: Mongolian, Nepali, and Punjabi.

Google also recognises the special efforts of a group of New Zealanders who’ve helped bring the Maori language to Google Translate.


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