Microsoft's Translator and API Now Support Haitian Relief Efforts by Translating Creole

Matthew Casperson
Feb. 02 2010, 04:13PM EST

The Haitian earthquake disaster prompted a quick response from tech companies, who have provided practical applications to aid in the disaster response. The Microsoft Translator Team has pitched in by announcing that Creole, a language spoken by nearly 80% of Hatians, is now supported in its language translation service Bing Translator. This blog post has more details on the announcement, and details how the support for Creole will help with the disaster:

With the devastating disaster that struck Haiti, we have all been individually pitching in to help the efforts. This is our effort, as a team, to respond to the needs of communities such as Crisis Commons by delivering a Haitian Creole translator which can be of help to individual users, as well as other technology projects that could use a scalable translation system in their relief endeavors.

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The Microsoft Translator API can also make use of the new language features, with free access for non-commercial applications.

Since its initial release, several improvements have been made including better translations and fixes for the AJAX API.

Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University's Language Technologies Institute (LTI) are also working on a Creole translation application, having supplying a prototype to the U.S. Army. The project was scrapped in 1990, but work has resumed in the wake of the earthquake disaster. Robert Frederking, senior systems scientist at LTI, had this to say:

Given the extreme poverty of Haiti, "nobody is going to make money on a Haitian Creole translator," Frederking said.

"But translation systems could be an important tool, both for the relief workers now involved in emergency response and in the long-term as rebuilding takes place."

Microsoft has provided an extensive site for developers looking to use the translation API, with a number of live sample applications to demonstrate how the API is used.

Matthew Casperson Matthew is a freelance writer, focusing on web and multimedia technologies. His work can be found featured on Programmable Web, Brighthub, Hubfolio, Chrome Experiments, Informit, Flash Tuts Plus and The Tech Labs.

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