YouTube subtitles get European languages support

Alan Buckingham
Nov 28, 2012
Updated • Nov 29, 2012
Google, Youtube

Google introduced captions, in English only, to it's videos back in 2009. The feature is automatic and uses speech recognition to render the text -- a method that wasn't always very smooth in the early days. But, if you have used Android recently then you have probably noticed that Google's speech-to-text technology has become pretty solid now. With that in mind, the company's YouTube property has announced the addition of six new languages to the captions feature.

As the caption service improved, YouTube added Japanese, Korean and Spanish, but today it announced the addition of German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Dutch.

"Now in 10 languages, automatic captions are an important first step in the path toward high-quality captions for the 72 hours of video people upload per minute."

While these may be thought of as predominantly European, many of these languages are spoken in far-flung locations around the world. The addition of Portuguese itself opens up the service to a large Brazilian population.

youtube video cc

If you haven't used close-captioning on YouTube then you can access it quite easily. When a video begins playing, simply click the "CC" button that appears in the bottom menu of the video panel.

For content creators who want to make sure that YouTube gets every word right, transcripts of the dialogue can be uploaded along with the video and, again, all currently supported languages can be used. Given that automatic translations has been improved greatly, but still is far from perfect, that can be a key feature for important videos.

Given the Google speech-to-text improvements and the company's great Google Translate feature which works on every browser, in addition to being a built-in feature in Chrome, the company has begun the task of handling real-time translations of these captions as well. You will find that feature in beta on the "CC" button also.


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  1. insanelyapple said on November 29, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Alan, shouldnt be “languages” in the header?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 29, 2012 at 10:44 pm

      right, corrected.

  2. Tim said on November 28, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Hmmm. Unless other languages happen to transcribe better, YouTube should concentrate on getting the interactive transcripts system working properly in English first. It’s so shockingly bad, it’s pretty much useless.

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