According to an article published on the Official Gmail Blog on July 7, Gmail is supporting 13 new languages for all Gmail users. Ian Hill, senior project manager of Google Localization, announced the expansion of the language translation services, which will bring the total number of languages supported to a grand 71. The 13 new ones include: Afrikaans, Armenian, Azerbaijani (Azeri), Chinese (Hong Kong), French (Canada), Galician, Georgian, Khmer, Lao, Mongolian, Nepali, Sinhala and Zulu.
A Truly Universal Means of Communication
Hill highlighted the fact that, with this new addition, 94 per cent of the total Internet population around the world will be covered. He also brought to the attention of the readers that, even though we tend to forget it nowadays, communicating with people all over the world is now significantly simpler, faster and more easily available to everyone than it was only some decades ago. However, he added that, for emails to become a truly universal way to communicate, Gmail needs to be able to guarantee that any person, anywhere in the world can have access to it regardless of the language they speak. And that is the obstacle Google is trying to overcome at the moment.
To get the new languages working, Google worked with a team of linguists who ensured that the tone and style are perfect for each particular language or language variety. As way of example, Hill referred to the difference between Hong Kong’s and Taiwan’s character for “Inbox”, which differs in spite of both using traditional Chinese characters. Another example includes languages like Hindi, Nepali and Marathi, three languages spoken in India which use Devangari characters but have different spellings for the word “Inbox”. To switch to a different language, clients only need to access their Gmail account settings, regardless of where they are or what their mother tongue is. The language settings have even been suggested as a way to learn some new words in a different language from the one you speak.
Google had already added nine languages only six months ago, in December 2013, reaching 80 languages supported by Gmail. On this occasion, the languages included were Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba (the three of them spoken by several million people in Nigeria); Somali, spoken mainly in Somalia; and Zulu spoken in South Africa and other regions of the African southwest.
Gmail was first released in 2004 in beta status. Since then, it has become the main web-based email, surpassing Hotmail’s number of users. In its turn, Gmail for Android has already been downloaded 1 billion times, making it the most downloaded app on Google Play.