About 10 million people speak Quechua, but trying to automatically translate emails and text messages into the lingua franca of the Inca Empire was nearly impossible before Google introduced it into its digital translation service on Wednesday.
The internet giant says new artificial intelligence technology lets it vastly expand Google Translate's repertoire of the world's languages. Google added 24 such languages this week, including Quechua and other Indigenous South American languages such as Guarani and Aymara.
It is also adding a number of widely spoken African and South Asian languages that have long been missing from popular tech products.
“We looked at languages with very large, under-served populations,” Google research scientist Isaac Caswell said.
Adding Quechua to the languages recognized by Google is a big victory for language activists like Luis Illaccanqui, a Peruvian who created the website Qichwa 2.0, which includes dictionaries and resources for learning the language, the Associated Press reported.