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BuzzFeed is crowdsourcing translation with language learning site Duolingo

Laura Hazard Owen

Viral content site BuzzFeed plans to launch French, Spanish and Portuguese editions this month — but to do so, it won’t use traditional translation or regional editors. Instead, the Wall Street Journal reports, BuzzFeed will rely on language-learning site Duolingo, which teaches students foreign languages by having them translate real-world documents.

From the WSJ:

“As part of their lessons, language learners will be presented with BuzzFeed posts that are trending in popularity.

For instance, people learning French might be asked to translate as much of ’24 People Who Are Really Nailing This Parenting Thing’ as they can. Duolingo will show each piece to dozens of people. Once enough French learners see and translate a piece, Duolingo’s systems will shuttle a translated version to BuzzFeed, which will publish it internationally.”

BuzzFeed says that in testing, the translations were accurate. The site is paying Duolingo for the translations.

BuzzFeed CEO and cofounder Jonah Peretti recently noted that the site’s traffic has tripled over the past year, hitting 85 million unique monthly visitors in August. BuzzFeed is also profitable, thanks largely to its use of sponsored content. It launched a U.K. version of its homepage this year.

Duolingo, for its part, has about 10 million users and has raised over $18 million from investors including Union Square Ventures. It teaches six languages through its mobile and web apps and recently launched a Language Incubator, where users can apply to add a new language to the site.

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