Hugo is here to help you translate Latvian

Anyone baffled by the mysteries of the Latvian language has a new resource at hand with the unveiling of a government-backed translation tool December 12.

Dubbed "Hugo", it is the result of a collaboration between the Tilde translation company, the Culture Information Systems Center and several other official bodies. 

Though a previous version was online, it has now been significantly upgraded and given an official launch at which Culture Minister Dace Melbārde said:

"Currently, the major languages ​​of the world are dominant, so small languages ​​must be digitally strong so that they will continue to exist in cross-border communication. The Hugo.lv platform is essential for protecting the Latvian language on the Internet, while serving as a modern, innovative solution for improving the services provided by state administration."

Crucially it also has the blessing of the State Language Center (VVC), guardian of the nation's linguistic purity.

"Hugo.lv is a freely accessible Latvian state administration machine translation platform. It provides automatic translation from the Latvian language into English and Russian, and vice versa. Users may translate text, documents and websites, as well as enjoy speech recognition and speech synthesis services," says the official description, which claims its translation quality is "much higher than in other online translation services" because it is tailored to the language commonly encountered in civil service documents and the like.

Text, documents and entire websites can be translated and Hugo.lv can be integrated into all state administration platforms and homepages to facilitate multi-lingual access to e-administration data and e-services.

Try it out for yourself.

The project has taken two years to implement at a cost of 1.5 million euros, of which 85 % is covered by European Union co-financing.

It is hoped Hugo.lv will significantly reduce the need for outsourcing for translation, though this is likely bad news for human translators and people who make a living writing up Latvian news in English.

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