YouTube just recently added automatic subtitle translations, though like most everything out of the Google universe, it’s still in “beta”. Subtitles and annotations were added as recently as the end of August to the videosharing service. The interpreter robot seems to work pretty well, at least in the example video where I tried Italian to English and Italian to German – I understood what the guy was saying (though it wasn’t all that encouraging – scary Italian politics). Anyway, you can use the translation service for any video that already has subtitles – just click on the arrow in the lower right hand corner.
The machine translation system for search results and websites of the do-no-harm Internet giant goes back to 2006, but it doesn’t rely only on computers (yet): A “Google Translation Center” is in the works, thought as a translation service for documents.: You can request a (human) translation or translate yourself and review a translation; though of course the professionals are going to get paid.
I’ve always found it curious that the Americans have no centralized institution which establishes the end-all be-all of language. I mean, something along the lines of the German Rechtschreibungen, grammars that all of which incorporated a rather catastrophic spelling reform mandated by an official agreement between German-speaking countries in 1996. Or the Real Academia Española(the Royal Spanish Academy) which purports to maintain propriety, elegance, and purity in the Spanish language, and consistently has conferences all over Spain and Latin America deliberating which words are worthy of inclusion. The North American language, however, is a bit federated, you could say… if not Balkanized.
For the Brits, one of the closest things to language royalty – along with Oxford’s, of course – would be Collins’ Dictionary, which has recently gotten positively ruthless in cutting words it deems obsolete. The Times along with other linguistic luminaries have taken up the case to save “endangered” words from institutional oblivion, by using them in public, and so reviving them.