Welsh language campaigners ‘snubbed’ by Google


From a recent article (Google translates into Welsh as ‘No’):

IT’S just the latest in a long line of tools designed by one of the world’s best-known internet companies to make our lives that little bit easier.

But users of Google Translate – which has followed in the footsteps of the firm’s maps, images and news functions – have spotted one significant flaw: it won’t translate into Welsh.

Well, I use Google Translate via (Mozilla add-on) Ubiquity all the time, but I’d never noticed the lack of Welsh, to be honest.

Bethan Williams, chair of the Language Act Group – Cymdeithas yr Iaith, said: “For a multi-national company like Google failing to consider the Welsh language with translating tools is disgraceful.

“They offer translation services in Arabic, Hindi, Maltese and a host of other languages so why not Welsh?

Google Translate is currently available to work between 42 languages, and the Google search page is already available in Welsh.  Now, before any angry Welsh language speakers email me about my insensitivity, I’d just like to point out that not only would it take an awful lot of man hours to add more languages to an already quite comprehensive and free translation service, but that other languages may have a more pressing need.

According to a 2004 survey, there are approximately 600,000 Welsh speakers living in Wales, while another survey indicated about 130,000 living in England.  Very, very few of these speakers are monoglots (only speak one language, i.e. Welsh).  Therefore, any translation services would likely only be needed by non-Welsh speakers, and not the other way around.

By comparison, over half a billion people speak Arabic, which has multiple dialects and a completely different script to English, and even Galician, which I’d never heard of, has over 3 million speakers in Spain and Portugal.

Now, I’m not telling Welsh language campaigners to get over it, but maybe just to be patient.  Who’s to say which of the thousands of languages spoken in the world gets priority over any of the other ones?