When you need to translate an entire webpage, you’d usually use one of many quick online translation services that generate a computerized translation. While you might get the general gist of the site, you’ll miss out on any subtleties or innuendos in the language that could really add to the content. A new start-up website called Duolingo looks to solve that problem. The website’s creed is that, even if the translator is just learning the language, a human translation is superior to that of a machine.
Translating the Web with Crowdsourcing
Crowdsourcing is the process of outsourcing a task to a large number of individuals, usually on the Internet. With Duolingo, people who are trying to learn a language can practice their skills by translating websites to the language that they are learning. However, the site isn’t just for education. These translated sites are then made available to people searching for a website in their native language. The labor is free, and the process benefits both the translators and the users. So far, content on Duolingo is only available for English, French, Spanish and German translation.
Users Already have Big Projects
Wikipedia has almost four million articles that are in English and only approximately one million in every other language. Wikipedia already uses crowdsourcing for its content, so it makes sense that Duolingo would take it on for its first major challenge. Even the New York Times has started experimenting with Duolingo as the means for translating its content into other languages. If the company were to hire translator services for every one of its articles, the cost would certainly begin to rack up.
While you might get a more accurate translation of a website by using a professional translation service, you’re certainly getting a better one than if you had used a simple robot translator. Humans, even at the most basic level, can understand contextual subtleties, which a computer cannot. The new website will make the translation process a learning experience for those just starting to study a new language, and it will make translation services more accessible to people around the world. Combining the processes of learning and translating creates a method that is beneficial to a countless number of people, so even if Duolingo doesn’t provide the highest quality or most flawlessly accurate translation, it will still deliver value in a different way.