Think Google Translate can handle all of your translation needs? Think again! There are around 3,570 written languages in the world. Google can only translate 103 of them. What’s missing? Popular languages with millions of speakers.
The gaps in Google Translate’s coverage of the world are most glaring in Africa, Asia and South America. Here are 8 surprising languages that Google can’t translate.
With around 60 million native speakers, Cantonese is the official language of Hong Kong and Macau. It is the 24th most commonly spoken language in the world. It has more native speakers than Dutch, Swedish and Greek put together. And it’s not included in Google Translate. At the moment, Google only supports Mandarin Chinese, though that will likely change in the future.
Odia or Oriya
- Has 33 million native speakers
- Is an official language of India and the Indian states of Odisha and Jharkhand
- is designated as a “Classical Language” in India AND
- is not covered by Google Translate?
The answer is Odia, also known as Oriya. This is another language that the Google Translate team is working on. It hasn’t been a high priority because “The online presence of Odia is quite insignificant,” as Subhashish Panigrahi, programme officer at Centre for Internet and Society, explained to the Telegraph of India.
Bhojpuri is spoken in India, Nepa, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius and Suriname. It has approximately 40 million native speakers. However, many Bhojpuri speakers lack internet access. But considering India is expected to have 500 million Internet users by next year, Google had better get on the ball.
Maithili is an official language in India. It’s also one of the most commonly spoken, with 30 million native speakers. Additionally, it is the second most common language in neighbouring Nepal, where it has official status under the Interim Constitution.
Looking toward the future, significant numbers of Maithili speakers will come online in the next few, along with the rest of India.
Next, we turn to Africa, another emerging market that is underserved by Google Translate at the moment. With 38 million native speakers, Oromo is one of the most widely spoken languages on the continent. It is spoken by the Oromo people in Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as in other African countries like Somalia, Tanzania, South Africa, Libya and Eritrea.
One of the major problems with Oromo when it comes to machine translation is that it’s actually a dialect continuum. People on one side of the continuum can’t necessarily understand people on the opposite side, even though they are technically speaking the same language.
Currently, Ethiopia has an Internet penetration rate of between 1.9-3.7%, depending on the source. However, efforts are in progress to get the country online, and the number of Ethiopians with web access is way up from .4% in 2008.
Another African language, Fula or Fulani is spoken across West and Central Africa. It has approximately 24 million native speakers, mostly from the Fulani people, and is spoken as a second language by other regional tribes.
Fula is an official language in Senegal and Nigeria, and a national language in Mali and Niger.
When you think of South America, what language do you think of? Probably Spanish, perhaps Portuguese. But many South Americans are more comfortable speaking the indigenous languages they grew up with. With 8.9 million native speakers, Quechua, the language of the Incas, is the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. It has official status in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador.
Like Oromo, Quechua has many different dialects and not all of them are mutually intelligible (it’s sometimes listed as a language family instead of a language.) That’s challenging, but including even the most commonly spoken dialects would be a boost for indigenous people across South America. While Quechua is not currently endangered, there is a trend of Quechua speakers switching to Spanish because they feel it offers them more opportunities and social status. The ability to access services (like the Internet) in a given language is an important part of language preservation.
More than 6 million people in Mesoamerica and Central America speak a Mayan language as their first language. K’iche’, the most widely spoken Mayan language, has an estimated 2.3 million native speakers, mostly in Guatemala. Currently, no Mayan languages are available in Google Translate.
Why not offer K’iche’? After all, Google Translate is available in Frisian, with only 480,000 native speakers. Part of the issue is that the Mayan languages are mostly oral. Machine Translation works from written content,
Many of these languages are in emerging economies where Internet connectivity is not something you can take for granted. But various initiatives are in place to help bring these parts of the world online. As more and more people get connected, demand for previously overlooked languages will increase.
What languages do you think Google Translate should add next, and why? Let us know in the comments!
43 thoughts on “8 Surprising Languages Not on Google Translate”
I don’t think Limburgish is any more than a dialect
Wow, that’s a huge list of languages 😛
Indeed. 🙂 Thanks, Lewys!
Portuguese is missing on google trasnlater app in my LG G Stylus.
valencian is yet included in catalan with variants accepted
Nubian Language < South Egypt
Or North Sudan 🙂
Thank you k international for this information and awesome research……
Mooré : language spoken by the majority in BURKINA FASO, WEST AFRICA.
Odia language should added very soon because odia people are curious to see it in google
Our Bhojpuria Community is looking for Gooogle Translate in Bhojpuri. if you can help us, that would be great full to us.
How does google include local languages in google translate ?
Celtic isnt on there either
Akan Twi is missing. Over 17 million people use it as a first or second language.
25 million people are miss oromo language
Coptic, Egyptian Arabic, and fictional languages. Also to the person that said ASL, I think it’ll be hard for it to translate in American Sign Language.
Punjabi is currently missing from Google Translate
Please see below quotes from
and Listen and Learn website article: https://www.listenandlearn.org/blog/punjabi-unique-indo-aryan-language/
‘…130 million [Punjabi] speakers
There are approximately 130 million speakers of Punjabi, with around 76 million native speakers throughout Pakistan and about 26 million in India as its eleventh most widely spoken language. The rest are L2 speakers who make up the Punjabi diaspora across the world…’
Oriya, Kinyarwanda, Tatar, Uyghur and Turkmen have been added.
Kashmiri. it is spoken by 7 million Kashmiris.
Please add Sanskrit language too. Please. Because it is classical and useful. Thank you
Dumi is most rare language that google transalate does not
They need to add Dzongkha.
Quechua is indeed the most needed language that is not available yet with lots of speakers. i have heard that it is similar to Spanish language.
and tamazight language too
it is spoken by many countries in north africa and it is an official language in morocco and algeria.
the question is how can you contribute to add a language on google translate ?
Lakota, Navajo, Chippewa, Algonquin, Shoshone, Mandan, Dinka
its 2022 and they still haven’t had Bengali as a language
Fijian… and more specifically, Rotuman… and I don’t recall seeing many other South Pacific languages either…
They should have Sanskrit as well. Although it has few speakers, it is an old language and the mother of all Indian and many other languages.
Oh totally agree about Egyptian Arabic, I grew up around it but can’t ever find a translation source.
to the one who said celtic, that’s a branch of the indo-european languages. 3 of these languages are on google translate.
to the one who said kurdish (sorani) along with saying guarani, they have been added.
to the person who said punjabi, punjabi has been on google translate since december 2013
to shiva, your sanskrit wish has been granted
and if anyone needs queretaro otomi, yucatec maya, or klingon, then never fear! bing translator’s here.
to BrentW, your twi wish has been granted. the same stage as shiva’s sanskrit wish
to the one who said faroese, bing translator’s here
I can’t help with kashmiri, sorry
but if anyone needs chuvash or yakut, never fear! yandex translate is here
This is right
This is right
Google is also failing to translate Corsican to English.
Pennsylvania Dutch (German), a language common in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa among the Amish and Mennonite communities should be included.
punjabi language most popolar language of pakistan in shah mukhi transcript is not translating google.only in gurmukhi transcript which is writen at small scale in india google is translatiing.why
punjabi language in shahmukhi transcript in pakistan is also not translating goole