Over on The Next Web they report that Twitter are adding the option to machine translate tweets. This is in theory a great idea as only 50% of tweets are in English and that figure is bound to become lower as the use of the site increases.
Problem is that machine translation struggles with the simplest of sentences, quite how it will cope with the type of short messages people use on Twitter is hard to know. Apparently the software gives the option to preview your translation before you hit send. This is a nice feature, maybe Twitter will use this as a way to improve the translations.
Could this be a nice little earner for Twitter?
Well if that’s what they have in mind then yes it could. Machine Translation works best on short burst of simple text. So if Twitter can capture these corrections they could be building a learning machine translation good enough to be able to sell on.
One big drawback is that this is currently only available via the twitter site. Unfortunately most twitter users don’t go anywhere near the site because they use third party software such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.