The Official Google Blog announced yesterday that Google Translate was getting more text-to-speech translation options. English and Haitian Creole were the initial languages, and French, Italian, German, Hindi, and Spanish were added a couple weeks ago (I musta missed that!)
Google Translate has added the speech synthesizer eSpeak, which is adding text-to-speech for Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Chinese (Mandarin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese and Welsh. (Does this strike anyone else as kind of an odd selection of languages? Where’s Japanese, for example? Why have Icelandic and not, say, Arabic or Hebrew? No offense intended to anybody’s language.)
You can try this for yourself. Google Translate’s URL is http://translate.google.com/, while if we wanted to get an English to Hungarian translation for good food, the URL would be http://translate.google.com/#en|hu|good%20food. (By the way, that URL is gorgeous. I love that structure.) There’s a little speaker icon by the translation; click on it and a rather tinny machine voice will tell you a jó étel. You can contribute a better translation, but that’s for text only, not speech.
What I wanted to do after listening to this was go to Forvo and see how the pronunciation compared to a human’s pronunciation, but while Forvo had plenty of Hungarian words I couldn’t find either of those particular Hungarian words. Machine translation always makes me a little nervous, while machine pronunciation makes me slightly less nervous but still concerned. Google’s making all these languages available is a huge step forward, but I wish I had something with which I could compare these translations…