Resistance is Futile. Google Translate Text-to-Speech Now in 34 Languages.

by Translation Guy on May 20, 2010

Google Translate just gets better and better in its own increasingly horrible and creepy way. Fergus Henderson posted recently on the Google Blog about Google Translate’s new text-to-speech integration.

“One of the popular features of Google Translate is the ability to hear translations spoken out loud (“text-to-speech”) by clicking the speaker icon beside some translations.

“We rolled this feature out for English and Haitian Creole translations a few months ago and added French, Italian, German, Hindi and Spanish a couple of weeks ago. Now we’re bringing text-to-speech to even more languages with the open source speech synthesizer, eSpeak.

“By integrating eSpeak we’re adding text-to-speech functionality for Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh.”

I have to admit I have a weakness for this kind of stuff, especially because all the voices sound like they come out of Star Trek, which has obviously been a big influence to those Googlers. (ADHD aside: did you know that they have dating sites specifically to hook up with a Googler? Weird but true. But back to the topic….)

When I say Googlers are into Star Trek, that’s a euphemism for saying Googlers are into the Borg. You know, the cybernetically enhanced humanoids from The Next Generation who, through a policy of forced aggregation, I mean, assimilation, transform individuals and technology into Google, I mean, Borg, which is a massive hive mind in single-minded pursuit of its own twisted ideas of perfection.

So check it out. I did some answering machine messages and some handy phrases here,  here, and here. Since iPhone doesn’t do flash, I was unable to test the audio on my cell, but I can imagine how useful this audio feature would be in random encounters with illiterate, non-English speakers―or to scare small children―but I guess I’ll have to wait.

Meanwhile, you translators can sleep well knowing that your hard work, posted under copyright by your high-paying clients, has been aggregated for conversion into wacky robot languages that people around the world can use for free. The collective thanks you.

Do you think this post will affect my Google page rank?

Do no evil, now, hear? XOXO Translation Guy


  1. Mike C says:

    Google has added some new features to their Translation service. Google Translation can now speak Hindi! You just need to type some content and the system would translate it into Hindi and speak it if you want.
    Google said: “India is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, having more than hundred languages with Hindi as the most widely spoken language. To make it easier to read, learn and communicate in Hindi, we are excited to announce recent addition of automated text-to-speech capability for Hindi translations on Google Translate.”

  2. TheBleeder says:

    Here’s a funny Google translation fail –

  3. Gettowolf says:

    Google translation has added Urdu to the list of 58 languages as well!

  4. Aron_Didek says:

    It also translates 6 or 7 alpha languages as well, how cool is that?

  5. dadadumdums says:

    Hate it. One of the most annoying issues with Google Translate is that it’s very difficult to copy the translated version of a web page. Translate a web page, copy some text, paste it in a text editor and you’ll notice that, before each translated phrase, there’s the original version of the phrase. UGH!

  6. datoneer says:

    Android has an app for it too…it will rule the world

  7. doomeastvan says:

    My thrice accursed job now involves comparing various MT solutions and though I haven’t delved into it too deeply yet, so far, Google Translate always comes out on top.

    • Ken says:

      Doomeastvan, Since Google takes a hybrid approach, some of the translations you see there are not machined at all, they are the hand-crafted real thing, a snatch of translation torn from a road-side thorn on the information highway.

  8. Lioric says:

    Your phone will soon be a universal translator, basically. This means there’s now even less motivation for people like us to bother learning foreign languages in school.

  9. Statistical Machine Translation is obviously a few orders of magnitude better than the retarded “dictionary and grammar” approaches used by older machine translation companies. This has been clear for several years already.

    • Ken says:

      Shirley, stat and rules- based MT make for a double whammy when stacked as one. Add a flapjack of translation memory, and you’re really cooking with gas.

  10. Randal G says:

    Yes, Google Translate leaves the others in the dust, but as a person who uses it every day to translate English into Chinese, I can tell you, oftentimes the results resemble a バラバラ殺人事件 — a murder where the body has been dismembered and the body parts hidden in different places. Coherent sentences are converted into total nonsense, where subjects mysteriously turn up at the end of the sentence and numbers are even occasionally split into two parts (like, 5,800 split into 5 in one part of the sentence and 800 somewhere else). True, Google Translate does a fairly good job of choosing appropriate vocabulary, which saves time spent in looking up the right word, and in some cases the sentences produced are almost perfect, but I can assure you, you pay for your laziness with a very laborious and frustrating bout of post-editing.

  11. Pat Berls says:

    Cool! I use the site all the time, so it’s good to see an app for it.

  12. Fit and fast says:

    you can properly copy some text from a translated page if you use the translation feature from Google Toolbar or from Google Chrome. Microsoft’s translation service has a more flexible interface and it doesn’t mix the translated text with the original text.

  13. richard says:

    Yeah too bad Verizon only allowed a handful of phones to be “world phones”, I love this app but have no use for it on an htc incredible that only works in the united states Frown after the touch pro 2, I figured all high end htc phones would include world roaming.

  14. Mark Demanno says:

    Android… The Borg… Scary stuff here…

  15. Jenny says:

    You can actually already do this using the “Google Translate” app providing you have the Voice Search app (I think it’s part of Nexus One, additional download for Desire) installed and the TTS Service installed. Combined with the new text recognition and translation built into Goggles, you never need to learn a different language again!

  16. says:

    As translation services on the computers evolve, people will get much more accurate translation via computer systems. I don’t think it will ever be perfect, but it will certainly get close to it. Especially since they are doing more -phrase translation- versus word-for-word.

  17. M Barret says:

    I’m not qualified as a linguist, but from my naive point of view it seems that the difference in results between the old approach of programming grammars into a machine and plugging in vocabulary, versus Google’s statistical approach, can say a lot about Chomsky’s Universal Grammar. If the Universal Grammar hypothesis were valid, I would suppose that the grammar/vocabulary approach would yield the better results. Any ideas?

  18. Mike T. says:

    It does a very bad job of translating into Irish. The vocabulary is mosly ok but the sentence structure and verb format is completely wrong. What’s irritating is that a lot of commercial websites are generating versions of themselves in this pidgin-Irish and swamping the results of Google searches for actual text in Irish.

    • Ken says:

      Mike, that’s very interesting. When you have a language of limited diffusion such as Welsh, I guess it shouldnt be surprising that machine translation can out-write natural users.

  19. Cody says:

    Some months ago, I paid professional translators to evaluate translations from Google Translate. For English to Spanish, and for English to Norwegian, the translations were satisfactory. For English to Welsh, the translations were not good. For details, see

  20. Germanic says:

    Firefox has an excellent toolbar called FoxLingo that lets you paste whatever you want to translate with just one click. I use it more than I use the address bar with google, urban dictionary, amazon, wikipedia, and all the other search engines combined.

  21. ejaz14357 says:

    I use it more than I use the address bar with google, urban dictionary, amazon, wikipedia, and all the other search engines combined,its real.

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