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Google wants your help in making Translate work for refugees

In a video uploaded to YouTube today, Google explains how most of the 800,000 refugees expected to arrive in Germany this year will have nothing more than basic documentation and a mobile phone. The company is seeing an increase in the number of German to Arabic translations being made through Google Translate as refugees with no understanding of the German language use their mobile phones to get instant translations for signs and documents.
There’s a problem though. Google says some translations are more challenging for computers than others with German to Arabic being one of the most difficult to make. Google Translate is sometimes translating things inaccurately or failing to work at all in the hands of the people who arguably rely on it more than anyone else.
To solve the issue, Google has set up a website that crowd-sources translations for common German phrases that refugees are likely to encounter when they arrive in the country. The company says you only need to know German or Arabic as phrases for each language will be displayed in English. The service can then link the German and Arabic together once it has accurate translations between English and German and English and Arabic.
Google wants to see 2 million translations improved with the new Help Translate website. It says hundreds of thousands of people have already started making Google Translate a better assistant for Arabic-speaking refugees arriving in Europe.
Anybody can help out by going to The website provides a series of English-language phrases with multiple choices for the possible translation in German or Arabic. The user simply has to select the most accurate one.
The effort should improve the service much more quickly than if Google Translate’s developers had to do all the work themselves. By involving the community and the Germans that have embraced the refugees entering their country, Google can provide more accurate translations while still having time to improve the core of the service.
The video also shows Google Translate actively being used in several ways by refugees. The app’s camera capabilities lets the user point their phone at a sign or page of foreign text to have it instantly translated into their language while voice recognition and speech makes it possible to have conversation with locals or officials.
Just nine days ago, Google added support for the translation of English or German printed text to Arabic as it works as quickly as it can to provide refugees with the communication platform they need. Google hopes that the Translate Community will be able to make the app even more powerful as it recognizes it is finding an entirely new use case in the thousands of refugees heading to Europe with no knowledge of the local language.

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