Celebrating four years of language love

Four years ago today we started on a mission to create the world’s largest dictionary. bab.la went live on July 27, 2007 and I am glad we saved a screenshot of how the homepage looked like then. Yes, it looks quite old-school but I can say: We learned and improved. So what’s the status of our mission? It’s time to face the truth and nothing but the truth:

Mission status: 0.0001% or 95%
Based on the known 6912 languages there are 23.891.328 potential dictionary combinations as Patrick pointed out some time ago. With currently 29 dictionaries we have accomplished a little more than 0.0001%. As this sounds rather frustrating we prefer to look at how many people we can reach with our 17 languages. Based on InternetWorldStats we reach about 95% of the online users who speak one of our 17 languages. Now, that sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

Mission status: 219 countries
Last time I checked we had visitors from 219 countries/territories according to Google Analytics. I don’t know the maximum number but Wikipedia currently lists 203 sovereign states so we are probably quite close to 100%. Most of our users come from Europe (Poland being no. 1 by a slight margin) – on the other side we have Palau with 1 user. In total we reach about 8 million unique visitors per month. What a difference to the 20.000 visitors in our first full month of operations…

Mission status: Accomplished?
Looking back we have accomplished quite a lot – starting with new products like our quizzes or vocab flashcards to our iPhone dictionary apps, translating our portal into 17 languages and adding new content every day with the help of our users. But: There are still 23.891.299 dictionary combinations to go. That means: Back to work! But not before I post another screenshot of today’s homepage for our memorabilia album.

Cheers to all language lovers out there – to another four exciting years!



{ 2 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. The 24 million combination remark isn’t really accurate anyway. In theory, you should be able to translate to an intermediate language before translating into the target language. Instead of translating from an obscure language to another obscure language, translate to English, then from English to the target. I’m sure that’s how Google works, since they offer translation to and from 64 languages, I don’t think they did 4096 combinations! Some information will be lost when it’s translated twice, but what can ya do?

    I’m sure you already know this, but maybe it’s not so obvious to everyone. 🙂

  2. @Kevin: That’s a good trick and Google does use it. But: The quality of the results gets worse so when you want a really good quality dictionary there is no way around building bilingual sources one by one.

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