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The Basque Government presents a free automatic Spanish to Basque online translator


Lehendakari Patxi Lopez at the official presentation of the automatic Spanish to Basque online translator
Lehendakari Patxi Lopez at the official presentation of the automatic Spanish to Basque online translator


The Basque Government has already provided an automatic system to translate from Spanish to Basque that can be used, free of charge, from anywhere in the world. The translator allows translation from text, websites, as well as simple documents. The system that has been in place since 2008 was presented yesterday in Bilbao by Lehendakari Patxi Lopez. Now, the focus is on developing translation tools for Basque to Spanish and English to Basque translations which should be available by mid 2013.

Bilbao, Bizkaia.  The Basque Government presented a project yesterday that it has been working on since 2008, an automatic translator from Spanish to Basque.  At a press conference, the Minister of Culture, Blanca Urgell, and the vice-minister of Linguistic Policy, Lourdes Auzmendi, as well as the director of the company Lucy Software Iberica of Barcelona, who was in charge of developing the translator, Juan Alberto Alonso, explained the characteristics of the new system; while Lehendakari Patxi Lopez was in charge of presenting the translator to the public.

This is the first product of the project that was launched five years ago, and in which 553,432 Euros has been invested.  Last year the Basque Government declared that the area of machine translation was strategic and so invested 1,600,000 Euros to launch two new areas of translation (Basque to Spanish and English to Basque) as well as to develop the Public Bank of Translation Memory.  It is hoped that these will be available to the public by mid 2013.

How to use it

In order to use the translator, all you have to do is go to, insert the text that you want to translate into the box and select the “traducir” (translate) button.  The system is equipped to translate short texts as well as web pages.    

However, we must remember that like any automatic translator, this system is a machine that translates texts word for word.  This means that the translation may contain errors, as it is unable to completely understand what was meant, and may translate literally.  At the moment the system doesn´t work to translate long documents, but the Basque Government is using it internally in a controlled situation, that is to say, checking the translations provided by professional human translators.  In this way, they seek to enrich the system, and in the future the translation limit, currently 1,024 characters, may be expanded. 

Other systems

In addition to this new translator, other translators exist such as “Matxin,” a project developed by the Basque company Eleka Ingeniaritza Linguistikoa, the IXA group and the University of the Basque Country.  This system began in 2005 as part of an overall project to promote the automatic translation between Euskera, Catalan, Galician and Spanish. 

“Matxin” is available free of charge from the translation platform of; the system provides the possibility to translate short texts from Spanish to Basque for free, in addition to all of the other languages integrated into the platform.

Finally, Google also has an automatic translator, Google Translate. This system allows the translation of short texts from English or Spanish and other languages to Basque and from Basque to English, Spanish and other languages, even though it is currently under development and the translations provided are weak. 


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