Ludovic Lazarus Zamenhof started his quest for an easy-to-learn language shared by all people in the 1870s and first published the ideas in 1887 with his book Unua Libro. The concept of a common language spread quickly, and initial reactions to Esperanto have ranged from suppression to enthusiastic embrace. Now, 125 years later, Esperanto has hundreds of thousands of active speakers, millions of people with some knowledge of the language, and even a few hundred people who learned it from birth, taught by their parents.
Esperanto and Google Translate share the goal of helping people understand each other, this connection has been made even in this blog post. Therefore, we are very excited that we can now offer translation for this language as well.
The Google Translate team was actually surprised about the high quality of machine translation for Esperanto. As we know from many experiments, more training data (which in our case means more existing translations) tends to yield better translations. For Esperanto, the number of existing translations is comparatively small. German or Spanish, for example, have more than 100 times the data; other languages on which we focus our research efforts have similar amounts of data as Esperanto but don’t achieve comparable quality yet. Esperanto was constructed such that it is easy to learn for humans, and this seems to help automatic translation as well.
Although the system is still far from perfect, we hope that our latest addition helps you to learn more about Esperanto’s history and culture. Translation to and from Esperanto will soon be available on translate.google.com, in our mobile web app, and in the Google Translate app for Android and iOS.
Posted by Thorsten Brants, Research Scientist, Google Translate