Google has added Latin to its automatic translation service, the 58th language supported by Google Translate and the first dead language in its repertoire, it said on Thursday. “We are excited to announce our first translation system for a language with no native speakers at all,” the Web search and advertising company said in a statement. Google said the service (www.translate.google.com) would be useful for the more than 100,000 American students who take the National Latin Exam every year, as well as to many more Latin language learners and scholars worldwide.
“As with every language, machine translating to and from Latin is a difficult problem and we know that our grasp of the ablative absolute or use of the subjunctive may occasionally be off,” it said. “However, unlike any of the other languages Google Translate supports, Latin offers a unique advantage: most of the text that will ever be written in Latin has already been written, and a comparatively large part of it has been translated into other languages.”