Multilingual Milestone: SwiftKey reaches support for 150 languages!

21st February 2017

Hi everyone,

Big news! SwiftKey for Android now has support for over 150 languages!

With this update, we’ve added 12 new languages. Now you can type in: Friulian, Lingala, Fijian, Rwanda, Oromo, Tsonga, Tswana, Swazi, Venda, Sesotho, Hiligaynon and Southern Ndebele.

This milestone represents another step towards representing our users’ multilingual voices and the languages spoken in all corners of the world. To find someone who understands the importance of representing languages, niche and widespread, look no further than Julien Baley, SwiftKey engineer who has personally built 48 of SwiftKey’s 150+ language models. We got some inside insight on Julien’s fascination with languages and how he got to #48.

How long does it take to build a new language model? 

When he first decided to embark on building language models, the process took roughly 4 months; today Julien’s got the process streamlined to round out 10 models in two weeks.

What goes into building a new language? 

It requires at least 5,000 words in a language to be able to build a keyboard for it. Julien pulls from online news reports and other publicly available content to get things started. As the language model gains users, its vocabulary grows more quickly.

Which language are you most proud of? 

In Julien’s own words: “I’m happy to have done Kurdish. There are two languages in Kurdistan and both are spoken in warzones. One part of the region is in Turkey and one part is in Syria and Iraq. The people can’t even go to a school that uses their language, so I’m happy they have a keyboard to at least write it now.”

What languages does Julien himself actually speak? 

English, French and Mandarin fluently…but he has varying degrees of knowledge of (get ready): German, Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Breton, Armenian, Greek, Hungarian, Taiwanese, Classical Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Swahili, Scottish Gaelic, Yiddish and Yakut.

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What languages do you type in on SwiftKey? And which would you like to still see (we might know a guy)?

Let us know why multilingual typing matters to you on Twitter!

Cheers,

The SwiftKey Team

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