Fridaygram: preserving languages, translating signs, clever dog

June 22, 2012

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Author PhotoBy Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

If you're really serious about organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful, that means you have to be interested in finding knowledge in all human languages. We’ve blogged here about Google Translate and its support for 64 languages. There are more than 3000 languages on the verge of disappearing, and this week we took a step to help preserve those by introducing the Endangered Languages Project.

The Endangered Languages Project provides a place online for research, documents, and even recordings of people speaking endangered languages. You can read more here about this incredibly cool and human use of the web.

While we're working on preserving languages, it's also important to create bridges between languages, as Google Translate does. A group of students at the University of Houston recently worked on a device that aims to translate between sign language and spoken English. The team created a prototype that reads sign language and outputs audible words, then reverses the process by listening for spoken words and showing sign language on a display.

Finally, in the underexplored field of interspecies communication, consider Shinook, a dog that understands commands given in sign language. Good dog!

Each week we publish Fridaygram, featuring cool things from Google and elsewhere that you might have missed during the week. Fridaygram items aren't necessarily related to developer topics; they're just interesting to us nerds. Speaking of languages, do you think COBOL should be preserved?