Microsoft Translator launches Zulu

Microsoft has added Zulu to its Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services Translator.

This enables text and documents to be translated to and from one of South Africa’s official languages across the entire Microsoft ecosystem of products and services, the company said.

Zulu joins Swahili as the latest African language to be supported.

Microsoft said there are plans to add more of the continent’s most widely spoken languages.

Integrations across the ecosystem include:

  • Microsoft 365 for translating text and documents
  • Microsoft Edge browser and Bing search engine for translating whole webpages
  • SwiftKey for translating messages
  • LinkedIn for translating user-submitted content
  • The Translator app for having multilingual conversations on the move

“This support — which has been added for over 100 languages and dialects worldwide — means that more people are able to connect and that language will become a seamless feature of using technology,” said Microsoft South Africa corporate and legal affairs head Siya Madyibi.

Madyibi said that Translator aims to break the language barrier between people and cultures all over the world.

“To achieve this, we have continuously added languages and dialects to this service while ensuring the translation quality of the supported languages by using the latest neural machine translation techniques.”

Microsoft Research works with partners in language communities who can help gather data for specific languages, and who have access to human-translated texts.

This helps overcome the challenge of obtaining enough bilingual data to train and produce a machine translation model, Microsoft said.

Its network of partners help collect bilingual data, consult with community members, and evaluate the quality of the resulting machine translation models.

“As the benefits and value of translation support become more evident, particularly for African languages, we will see capabilities being rolled out for more of the continent’s languages – ultimately helping break down language barriers and helping more people connect with each other and technology in a way that empowers them to do and achieve more,” says Madyibi.

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Microsoft Translator launches Zulu