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Haitian Creole Machine Translation now at Bing
January 29, 2010 - By: - In: Machine Translation - 18 comments

Men carry water in Port-au-Prince in earthquake aftermath

With the humanitarian crisis in Haiti, aid workers face numerous challenges. Haiti was light on infrastructure even before the devastating earthquake last week, and that infrastructure includes translation resources and technologies. The Microsoft Translator Team has responded with an emergency launch of a machine translation system.  Check out Vikram Dendi, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Translator from the Microsoft Translator Official Team Blog for further details:

“In the current crisis in Haiti there are a number of initiatives to rapidly build software in order to assist in humanitarian aid. Responding to community requests for a machine translation (MT) system to translate between English and Haitian Creole, our team has been hard at work over the last few days. I am glad to announce that an experimental Haitian Creole MT system is now publicly available via several services and APIs powered by Microsoft Translator technologies. We will continue working on improving the system, but we hope, meanwhile, that in spite of the experimental nature – it will be of use in the relief efforts.”

Haitian Creole has just been added to the list of available translations for the Bing Translator and other Microsoft Translator powered services (including the Messenger Translation Bot):

The typical approach to adding new languages involves significantly larger amounts of training and a higher threshold for quality testing, but the team decided that the upside warranted making the system available to the community at the earliest. As stated above it will be improved subsequently.

This is an experimental system put together in record time. While our typical approach to adding new languages involves significantly larger amounts of training, a higher threshold for quality testing – we decided that the upside warranted making the system available to the community at the earliest, and continue improving it subsequently. We are working diligently to keep improving the quality, but bear with us if you encounter problems. You can always contact us at mtcont@microsoft.com with feedback. Our user and developer forums are also available to discuss any issues you encounter.

Good work by Bing. Also interesting to note is how statistical machine translation tools can be developed so rapidly, which means that the translation isolation experienced by many less commonly used languages is about to end.  Adding machine translation boosts the power and influence of a language in a dramatic and interesting way. Getting the word out in Haitian Creole is especially important as Haiti struggles to recover and rebuild.

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