AI Insights

The First Ever Machine Translator Built for Bhutan’s Local Language, Dzongkha to English

November 28, 2022

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During the recent AI Innovation Challenge, which lasted from August to October 2022, Omdena built the first-ever machine translator from Bhutan’s local language, Dzongkha to English, which even Google does not have. The project was hosted together with Druk Holding & Investments (the commercial arm of the Royal Government of Bhutan). 

Over eight weeks, starting from August to October 2022, a team of 50 AI & ML engineers from all over the world, including some of whom are Bhutanese, collaborated on an AI Innovation Challenge project entitled Digitizing the Documents and Books for Accessibility With Machine Translation and NLP. The project was hosted by Omdena together with Druk Holding & Investments. 

The project developed a machine translation model that automatically translates a given document from Dzongkha to English and creates a digital copy by storing it in the cloud. 

In Bhutan, eighteen languages are spoken, and of those, only Dzongkha has a native literary tradition. Until now, there has been no translator from the Dzongkha language to English, resulting in the country’s cultural heritage in the form of various digital works being unavailable to the global audience. 

The Omdena and DHI project’s results will lead to the development of Bhutan’s digital culture, creative industries, and IT. Applying Natural Language Processing (NLP) solutions, such as machine translation, would benefit the tourists to interact with the local people of Bhutan to get more insights into the culture and tradition.

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