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Google Translate adds Breton in major update

03 Jul 2024 3 minute read
Fflag Llydaw flag of Brittany. Picture by Kergourlay (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Stephen Price

Breton is among 110 languages that have been added to Google Translate in a move that the tech giant has called the “biggest update since the launch of Google Translate”.

The addition of Breton, which was added to the translator app on 27 June brings the total number of available languages to 243.

In a statement, Google said: “These new languages represent more than 614 million speakers, paving the way for translations for around 8% of the world’s population,.”

“Some are major languages in the world, with over 100 million speakers. Others are spoken by small indigenous communities, and some have almost no native speakers but are undergoing revitalisation efforts.”

Brezhoneg

Breton is classified as ‘severely endangered’ by UNESCO, but its popularity is on the rise, with around a third of children in Brittany currently thought to attend bilingual classes that include the language.

Breton or Brezhoneg is a Southwestern Brittonic language of the Celtic language group spoken in Brittany, part of modern-day France.

It is the only Celtic language still widely in use on the European mainland, albeit as a member of the insular branch instead of the continental grouping.

Breton was brought from mainland Britain to Armorica (the ancient name for the coastal region that includes the Brittany peninsula) by migrating Britons during the Early Middle Ages, making it an Insular Celtic language, closely related to Welsh, Cornish and Cumbric.

Having declined from more than one million speakers around 1950 to about 200,000 in the first decade of the 21st century, Breton is classified as “severely endangered” by the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.

However, the number of children attending bilingual classes rose 33% between 2006 and 2012 to 14,709.

A screenshot of Google Translate in action

Google translates “Greetings to our friends and readers in Brittany” to “Salud d’hor mignoned ha lennerien e Breizh.”

And according to Google, “We are looking forward to growing our connections, and to hear about this year’s Lorient Interceltic Festival” translates as “Ne c’hellomp ket gortoz ivez klevet komz eus Gouel Etrekeltiek an Oriant ar bloaz-mañ.”

Speakers of Welsh and Breton will also be able to translate directly to and from their own languages without needing to first translate to English.

Other languages added to Google Translate on June 27 include:

  • Afar: a language spoken in Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia
  • Occitan: The language of the area of France known as the ‘Languedoc’. The area’s name itself comes from the phrase the ‘langue d’oc’. The language is sometimes referred to as lenga d’òc by its speakers, and also sometimes known as Provençal.
  • Cantonese: One of two major types of ‘Chinese’ language
  • Wolof: The national language of Senegal
  • Punjabi: Mainly spoken in Pakistan
  • Swati: Spoken in Eswatin (formerly Swaziland), and South Africa

Google has said it has no plans to stop there, and its ultimate aim is to provide translation for the 1,000 most widely-spoken languages on Earth.

It added artificial intelligence learning capacity to its tool in 2022, which it says will help with its 1,000-language goal.

You can use Google Translate for free here.


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Simmo
Simmo
11 days ago

Brilliant. “L’aise breizh ” . Hoping that Cornish might make an entry soon to Google translate also ?

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