If you have ever tried searching Google for “आईफोन” (the “iPhone” transliterated in Hindi), you know that the search engine returns hundreds of thousands of results, but the official Apple website is nowhere to be found on it.
Recently, Google took on the challenge of fixing this issue by including English results for search queries conducted in other languages. Google announced the development on its official search blog, with initial support being added for 14 languages: Afrikaans, Albanian, Catalan, Hindi, Icelandic, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili and Welsh.
As the company explains on its blog, the overwhelmingly vast mast majority of content on the Internet is published in English, with even a language as widely spoken as Hindi enjoying less a single percent of the global Internet content.
With this development, people searching in any of the fourteen languages mentioned above will see relevant results from English-language pages as well, along with a prominent link to a translated version of it. Google uses machine-based translation and the quality varies from decent to very poor, but it is definitely a step up from being limited to just the section of the web that is natively written in their own language.
One important point to note is that the inclusion of English pages only kicks in when the search is being conducted on a localised version of Google. If you are viewing the Google homepage in English and run a search in Hindi, you will only get results from Hindi pages. It’s only when you run a search from the Hindi version of Google India that you’ll see the new English-translation features kick in.
[Thanks to Seattle resident H.K. Tang, whose startup 2lingual has been offering bilingual Bing searches for a while now, for sending in the tip.]