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Gmail Integrates Auto Translation Into Emails

Gordon Kelly


Gmail Integrates Auto Translation Into Emails

Relentless, just relentless...

Following a tidal wave of new features in the first five months of 2009, Google has once again added an extra level of spit and polish to its popular Gmail service.

Following *deep breath* Offline Mode, native PDF support, integrated Google search and Flickr YouTube and Picassa Previews - to name just a few (see associated article for more) - now we have automatic language translation.

Technically called 'Statistical machine translation' it can be found under 'Message Translation' and enabled now in Labs under settings. Once on when an email is received in another language other than your own (Gmail checks this from your default language setting) it will offer to "Translate message to: language x' or 'Change language' to anything you desire. Very handy for all those promotions emails you still get following drunken holiday antics.

"If all parties are using Gmail, you can have entire conversations in multiple languages with each participant reading the messages in whatever language is most comfortable for them," adding Google on its official Gmail blog.

In essence then we have Google Translate right inside Gmail with the benefit of smart data detectors. What's not to like...?


Gmail Official Blog Post


May 21, 2009, 5:09 am

....all your base are belong to us :)


May 21, 2009, 5:29 am

The only people who will welcome this are spammers and scammers, as now they can simply type one message and Google will translate it to the appropriate language for them world wide!


May 21, 2009, 1:06 pm

What's not to like is that online translation often gives out bad, clunky or just plain wrong results

Improve Google Translate (I have used it, it's not near perfect) and get it to use context-based assignments of different translations of words, whilst teaching it common phrases and their equivalents (if any) and maybe I'll consider this feature...


May 21, 2009, 2:17 pm


Good job the Google Spam Filter is pretty useful then ;)


May 21, 2009, 5:05 pm


I get shedloads of French spam already, as well as English, in my gmail inbox. I don't have a particularly high opinion of the google spam filter.


May 21, 2009, 6:21 pm

@Norbury - I'm with Steve here, it's the best spam filter I've experienced.

Personally I find auto translation a nice extra, if you find it too basic then alternatively learn the language!


May 21, 2009, 7:11 pm


Have you experienced the GMX Email spam filter? That is by far the best email service i have used I get zero spam.


May 21, 2009, 7:13 pm

@deecee no, but since I haven't had a single spam email in my Google Apps account this year I haven't felt the need to look for alternatives! I'll take look though, thanks for the tip.


May 21, 2009, 9:16 pm

I suspect a lot of variation in spam received is simply due to how easily a spam program can generate your address. My gmail address is a single french word, whereas I have a fastmail account with two words and a symbol which receives no spam.

The main problem with online translation is that it translates each word according to its most frequent meaning. So you can see that a word like 'set', which has about twenty meanings in English, will always be translated the same way into French regardless of its intended meaning. The same problem applies the other way, leading to nonsensical sentences.

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