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This article was published on November 2, 2008


YouTube breaches language barriers by offering auto translation of subtitles

YouTube breaches language barriers by offering auto translation of subtitles
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
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Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

YouTube is making some serious efforts to breach the language barriers we Europeans face on a daily basis. I’d love to watch some interesting Italian documentary on YouTube, yet my knowledge of the Italian language is limited to the words needed for ordering food or drinks. The Google-owned video giant now offers a solution.

If the person who has uploaded a video also added captions, YouTube adds real-time machine translation. From the YouTube blog:

To get a translation for your preferred language, move the mouse over the bottom-right arrow, and then over the small triangle next to the CC (or subtitle) icon, to see the captions menu. Click on the “Translate…” button and then you will be given a choice of many different languages.

The machine translation is far from perfect and you’ll have to make an effort to understand what the Italian man is saying. Yet it’s a good first step which might inspire YouTube users to translate more videos.