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Quechua is one of the 24 spoken languages that Google added to its translation service on may. WIKIMEDIA
Quechua was one of the 24 spoken languages Google added to its translation service in May. Photo: WIKIMEDIA

Quechua now available on Google Translate

It is one of 24 spoken languages from around the world that the company added to its translation service in May, including Guarani and Aymara.

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"Allinllachu kuyasqay" (good morning my love), "huk kukata ama hina kaspa" (one coffee, please), "Ñawinchaytaqa anchatam kuyani" (I love reading). 

Quechua, one of the most widely-spoken Indigenous languages in Latin America, is now available on Google Translate, joining 23 other spoken languages of the world that the company added in May to its translation service. 

In total, these 24 languages, which include Quechua, Guarani and Aymara — three of the most used spoken languages in Latin America — add up to around 300 million speakers worldwide, mostly belonging to cultural minorities. 

The inclusion of Quechua Google translate is not only significant to give more voice and visibility to thousands of people in Latin America who suffer cultural discrimination, but will improve citizen communication in many areas, from doctors who want to be understood by their patients when communicating treatments or prescribing medication, to civil servants and teachers or police officers who wish to address individuals who only speak Quechua.  

"It's like saying to the world, 'Look, here we are!'" Irma Alvarez Ccoscco, a poet, teacher and digital activist, told the New York Times. She has long been an advocate for Quechua inclusion.

Google said the aim was to include languages that are underrepresented in technology to "connect communities all over the world."

"These are the first languages we added using Zero-Shot machine translation, where a machine learning model only sees monolingual text, meaning it learns to translate into another language without seeing an example," said Isaac Caswell, a Google Translate researcher.

Quechua is a language with more than 1,500 years of history, which emerged among farmers and herders in the Peruvian Andes. Little by little, it spread throughout the territory. In the 15th century, the Incas adopted it as the lingua franca of their empire, which extended throughout the South American continent. 
 
Today, it is estimated that Quechua has between 8 and 10 million speakers, mainly in Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. 

In the case of Aymara, Google highlighted that it is used by about 2 million people in Bolivia, Chile and Peru.

More than 300 million people speak these newly added languages, such as Mizo, used by around 800,000 people in the far northeast of India, and Lingala, used by more than 45 million people in Central Africa. As part of this update, the Indigenous languages of the Americas (Quechua, Guarani and Aymara) and a dialect of English (Krio from Sierra Leone) have also been added to Translator for the first time," the company said in a statement.

"We are grateful to the many native speakers, teachers and linguists who worked with us on this latest update and kept us inspired with their passion and enthusiasm." 

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