Google Neural Machine Translation

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Google Neural Machine Translation (GNMT) is a neural machine translation (NMT) system developed by Google and introduced in November 2016, that uses an artificial neural network to increase fluency and accuracy in Google Translate.[1][2][3][4]

GNMT improves on the quality of translation by applying an example based (EBMT) machine translation method in which the system "learns from millions of examples".[2] GNMT's proposed architecture of system learning was first tested on over a hundred languages supported by Google Translate.[2] With the large end-to-end framework, the system learns over time to create better, more natural translations.[1] GNMT is capable of translating whole sentences at a time, rather than just piece by piece.[1] The GNMT network can undertake interlingual machine translation by encoding the semantics of the sentence, rather than by memorizing phrase-to-phrase translations.[2][5]


The Google Brain project was established in 2011 in the "secretive Google X research lab"[6] by Google Fellow Jeff Dean, Google Researcher Greg Corrado, and Stanford University Computer Science professor Andrew Ng.[7][8][9] Ng’s work has led to some of the biggest breakthroughs at Google and Stanford.[6]

In September 2016, a research team at Google announced the development of the Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT) and by November Google Translate began using neural machine translation (NMT) in preference to its previous statistical methods (SMT)[1][10][11][12] which had been used since October 2007, with its proprietary, in-house SMT technology.[13][14]

Google Translate's NMT system uses a large artificial neural network capable of deep learning.[1][2][3] By using millions of examples, GNMT improves the quality of translation,[2] using broader context to deduce the most relevant translation. The result is then rearranged and adapted to approach grammatically based human language.[1] GNMT's proposed architecture of system learning was first tested on over a hundred languages supported by Google Translate.[2] GNMT did not create its own universal interlingua but rather aimed at commonality found in between many languages, considered to be of more interest to psychologists and linguists than to computer scientists.[15] The new translation engine was first enabled for eight languages: to and from English and French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish in 2016.[16] In March 2017, three additional languages were enabled: Russian, Hindi and Vietnamese along with Thai for which support was added later.[17][18] Support for Hebrew and Arabic was also added with help from the Google Translate Community in the same month.[19] In mid April 2017 Google Netherlands announced support for Dutch and other European languages related to English.[20] Further support was added for nine Indian languages, viz. Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada at the end of April 2017.[21]

Languages Supported by GNMT[edit]

This is a list of language translation pairs supported by Google Translate's Neural Machine Translation (NMT) model. As of July 2017 all languages currently only support translation to and from English:[22]

Language Pair Language Codes
Afrikaans ↔ English afen
Albanian ↔ English sqen
Amharic ↔ English amen
Arabic ↔ English aren
Armenian ↔ English hyen
Azerbaijani ↔ English azen
Basque ↔ English euen
Bengali ↔ English bnen
Bosnian ↔ English bsen
Bulgarian ↔ English bgen
Catalan ↔ English caen
Cebuano ↔ English ceben
Chinese (Simplified) ↔ English zh-CN * ↔ en
Chinese (Traditional) ↔ English zh-TWen
Corsican ↔ English coen
Croatian ↔ English hren
Czech ↔ English csen
Danish ↔ English daen
Dutch ↔ English nlen
Esperanto ↔ English eoen
Estonian ↔ English eten
Finnish ↔ English fien
French ↔ English fren
Frisian ↔ English fyen
Galician ↔ English glen
Georgian ↔ English kaen
German ↔ English deen
Greek ↔ English elen
Gujarati ↔ English guen
Haitian Creole ↔ English hten
Hausa ↔ English haen
Hawaiian ↔ English hawen
Hebrew ↔ English iwen
Hindi ↔ English hien
Hmong ↔ English hmnen
Hungarian ↔ English huen
Icelandic ↔ English isen
Igbo ↔ English igen
Indonesian ↔ English iden
Irish ↔ English gaen
Italian ↔ English iten
Japanese ↔ English jaen
Javanese ↔ English jwen
Kannada ↔ English knen
Kazakh ↔ English kken
Khmer ↔ English kmen
Korean ↔ English koen
Kurdish ↔ English kuen
Lao ↔ English loen
Latvian ↔ English lven
Lithuanian ↔ English lten
Luxembourgish ↔ English lben
Macedonian ↔ English mken
Malagasy ↔ English mgen
Malay ↔ English msen
Malayalam ↔ English mlen
Maltese** <- English mt <- en
Maori ↔ English mien
Marathi ↔ English mren
Mongolian ↔ English mnen
Nepali ↔ English neen
Norwegian ↔ English noen
Nyanja (Chichewa) ↔ English nyen
Pashto ↔ English psen
Persian ↔ English faen
Polish ↔ English plen
Portuguese (Portugal, Brazil) ↔ English pten
Punjabi ↔ English paen
Romanian ↔ English roen
Russian ↔ English ruen
Samoan ↔ English smen
Scots Gaelic ↔ English gden
Serbian ↔ English sren
Sesotho ↔ English sten
Shona ↔ English snen
Sindhi ↔ English sden
Sinhala (Sinhalese) ↔ English sien
Slovak ↔ English sken
Slovenian ↔ English slen
Somali ↔ English soen
Spanish ↔ English esen
Swahili ↔ English swen
Swedish ↔ English sven
Tagalog (Filipino) ↔ English tlen
Tajik ↔ English tgen
Tamil ↔ English taen
Telugu ↔ English teen
Thai ↔ English then
Turkish ↔ English tren
Ukrainian ↔ English uken
Urdu ↔ English uren
Uzbek ↔ English uzen
Vietnamese ↔ English vien
Welsh ↔ English cyen
Xhosa ↔ English xhen
Yiddish ↔ English yien
Yoruba ↔ English yoen
Zulu ↔ English zuen

Zero-shot translation[edit]

The GNMT system is said to represent an improvement over the former Google Translate in that it will be able handle "zero-shot translation", that is it directly translates one language into another (for example, Japanese to Korean).[2] Google Translate previously first translated the source language into English and then translated the English into the target language rather than translating directly from one language to another.[5] Currently, no non-English language pairs are supported.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Barak Turovsky (November 15, 2016), "Found in translation: More accurate, fluent sentences in Google Translate", Google Blog, retrieved January 11, 2017
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Mike Schuster, Melvin Johnson, and Nikhil Thorat (November 22, 2016), "Zero-Shot Translation with Google's Multilingual Neural Machine Translation System", Google Research Blog, retrieved January 11, 2017CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ a b Gil Fewster (January 5, 2017), "The mind-blowing AI announcement from Google that you probably missed", freeCodeCamp, retrieved January 11, 2017
  4. ^ Wu, Yonghui; Schuster, Mike; Chen, Zhifeng; Le, Quoc V.; Norouzi, Mohammad. "Google's neural machine translation system: Bridging the gap between human and machine translation" (PDF). Retrieved Oct 1, 2018.
  5. ^ a b Boitet, Christian; Blanchon, Hervé; Seligman, Mark; Bellynck, Valérie (2010). "MT on and for the Web" (PDF). Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  6. ^ a b Robert D. Hof (August 14, 2014). "A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream: Baidu is a fixture of online life in China, but it wants to become a global power. Can one of the world's leading artificial intelligence researchers help it challenge Silicon Valley's biggest companies?". Technology Review. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  7. ^ Jeff Dean and Andrew Ng (June 26, 2012). "Using large-scale brain simulations for machine learning and A.I." Official Google Blog. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  8. ^ "Google's Large Scale Deep Neural Networks Project". Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  9. ^ Markoff, John (June 25, 2012). "How Many Computers to Identify a Cat? 16,000". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2014.
  10. ^ Katyanna Quach (November 17, 2016), Google's neural network learns to translate languages it hasn't been trained on: First time machine translation has used true transfer learning, retrieved January 11, 2017
  11. ^ Lewis-Kraus, Gideon (December 14, 2016). "The Great A.I. Awakening". The New York Times. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  12. ^ Le, Quoc; Schuster, Mike (September 27, 2016). "A Neural Network for Machine Translation, at Production Scale". Google Research Blog. Google. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Google Switches to its Own Translation System, October 22, 2007
  14. ^ Barry Schwartz (October 23, 2007). "Google Translate Drops SYSTRAN for Home-Brewed Translation". Search Engine Land.
  15. ^ Chris McDonald (January 7, 2017), Commenting on Gil Fewster's January 5th article in the Atlantic, retrieved January 11, 2017
  16. ^ Turovsky, Barak (November 15, 2016). "Found in translation: More accurate, fluent sentences in Google Translate". The Keyword Google Blog. Google. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Perez, Sarah (March 6, 2017). "Google's smarter, A.I.-powered translation system expands to more languages". TechCrunch. Oath Inc.
  18. ^ Turovsky, Barak. "Higher quality neural translations for a bunch more languages". The Keyword Google Blog. Google. Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  19. ^ Novet, Jordan (March 30, 2017). "Google now provides AI-powered translations for Arabic and Hebrew". VentureBeat.
  20. ^ Finge, Rachid (April 19, 2017). "Grote verbetering voor het Nederlands in Google Translate" [Big improvement for Dutch in Google Translate]. Google Netherlands Blog (in Dutch).
  21. ^ Turovsky, Barak (April 25, 2017). "Making the internet more inclusive in India". The Keyword.
  22. ^ "Translation API Language Support". Google Cloud Platform. May 4, 2017.

External links[edit]