Internet search giant Google is accelerating the process of making the Vietnamese language more popular in cyberspace at a time when Vietnam is seen as a lucrative market in Asia and more and more of its people are buying smartphones.
Marketing Director of Google in Vietnam Sophie Tran said the company is trying to bring customers more and more Vietnamese-language products to erase the language barrier many of them have hit when using the Internet.
“The Internet is an unlimited source of information,” Tran told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. “Once language barrier still exists, the usefulness of information will never take its full effect.”
“I grew up in France and has lived in Vietnam for quite a long time since I always want to do something for this country,” she added. “I wake up every morning and keep thinking of things I can do to improve the country via the devices and technology Google has developed.”
Vietnam is a part of the strong development of Internet usage in Asia, Tran said, adding the country has seen a sharp increase in the number of Internet users during the last decade.
The Southeast Asian nation now has 33 million Internet users, which make up 34 percent of its population.
Tran also said the country has a large number of smartphone users.
She added that Vietnamese has not made it to the list of the 10 most common languages on the Internet though more and more online content is written in Vietnamese.
English is reigning over other languages in cyberspace, she said.
“Vietnamese is the language that Vietnamese people mostly use when surfing the Internet,” Tran spoke to Tuoi Tre. “Vietnamese people go online to look for information, but useful search results may come in other languages.”
Google Translate and Google Translate Community
To bring Google closer to more Vietnamese users, the company has kept improving its supportive services here, including Google Translate and Google Translate Community.
Google Translate, which is a multilingual service provided by Google to translate written text from one language into another, has remained one of the most common solutions for helping Vietnamese people who use the Internet understand the results they found in other languages.
However, the translation from Vietnamese into the world’s most common language –English – has not been very accurate.
The marketing director said Google Translate has done its job to an acceptable extent.
“For content about science or health, the service can generate 90 percent accurate translations,” she said. “But to translate content related to lifestyle or daily communicative languages, Google Translate is being improved.”
Tran added that with certain slang or local terms, the computer cannot understand them if it has not been taught them beforehand.
“It’s a shortcoming,” she admitted.
In an effort to improve the quality of Google Translate, as the company said, Google started its “Yêu lắm tiếng Việt ơi!” (Love You So Much, the Vietnamese Language!) project last month, which runs a program called Google Translate Community.
According to Google, the service at www.translate.google.com.vn/community is where language enthusiasts can help the company improve translation quality.
Getting access to Google Translate Community, users will find options to help with a variety of tasks, including “translate” and “validate.”
When users choose “translate,” they will be given a phrase to translate into Vietnamese or vice versa.
If they choose “validate,” Google will give them a term with its translations and their job is to choose the most correct in their opinion.
Tran said everyone is welcome to join the project to help the computer understand human language.
“In that fashion, we will be able to complete the online Vietnamese language and bring benefits to the community,” Tran said.
“Google’s mission is making information easy to access and useful for everybody,” she added. “Google users could be a student, a parent, or a businessman.”
According to Tran, when online languages are improved, users could find the information they want in other languages, even when the language they use to Google it is Vietnamese.
If a user searches in Vietnamese, the results can be yielded in English with the most-appropriate Vietnamese translations, she explained.
“This is a pilot program meant to erase language barrier by calling on people who understand Vietnamese well and love the language to contribute their knowledge to make a major change for their mother tongue on the Internet,” Tran said.