Microsoft taps AI techniques to bring Translator to 100 languages

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Today, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Translator, its AI-powered text translation service, now supports more than 100 different languages and dialects. With the addition of 12 new languages including Georgian, Macedonian, Tibetan, and Uyghur, Microsoft claims that Translator can now make text and information in documents accessible to 5.66 billion people worldwide.

Its Translator isn’t the first to support more than 100 languages — Google Translate reached that milestone first in February 2016. (Amazon Translate only supports 71.) But Microsoft says that the new languages are underpinned by unique advances in AI and will be available in the Translator apps, Office, and Translator for Bing, as well as Azure Cognitive Services Translator and Azure Cognitive Services Speech.

“One hundred languages is a good milestone for us to achieve our ambition for everyone to be able to communicate regardless of the language they speak,” Microsoft Azure AI chief technology officer Xuedong Huang said in a statement. “We can leverage [commonalities between languages] and use that … to improve whole language famil[ies].”


As of today, Translator supports the following new languages, which Microsoft says are natively spoken by 84.6 million people collectively:

Bashkir Dhivehi Georgian Kyrgyz Macedonian Mongolian (Cyrillic) Mongolian (Traditional) Tatar Tibetan Turkmen Uyghur Uzbek (Latin)

Powering Translator’s upgrades is Z-code, a part of Microsoft’s larger XYZ-code initiative to combine AI models for text, vision, audio, and language in order to create AI systems that can speak, see, hear, and understand. The team comprises a group of scientists and engineers who are part of Azure AI and the Project Turing research group, focusing on building multilingual, large-scale language models that support various production teams.

Z-code provides the framework, architecture, and models for text-based, multilingual AI language translation for whole families of languages. Because of the sharing of linguistic elements across

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