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November 15, 2007

Language Detection in Gmail

Googling Google posts about a hidden Gmail operator that lets you restrict your messages to a certain language. For example, if you search for lang:pt or lang:Portuguese or language:Portuguese, you'll find some of the messages that contain Portuguese text. You can combine the lang: operator with keywords or other operators. The language detection is not perfect, so not all the messages are labeled correctly.

Gmail could provide an option to automatically translate messages written in a language you don't know and add many other useful features from web search (spelling suggestions, query expansion, search refinements).


  1. This is a nice operator to combine with GMail filters either for SPAM detection or e-mail labeling.

  2. Not only is this nice for controlling Spam, it is useful for people that often receive emails in multiple languages and want an easy way to search for them. offers 100 different language translations and this an be helpful if you can't fully understand emails that you receive in a language that is not your first.

  3. portuguese?? you are brazilian?

  4. Marcel, Hi was thinking the same!!

    I did´t know that the webmaster of this blog is or Portuguese like me or Brasilian!!

    he he

  5. so, why portuguese as language of choice, the obvious would be english, since the blog is in english, do you get a lot of spam in portuguese?

  6. Why Portuguese? I couldn't choose English and Romanian, because most of my mail is in one these languages. I tried French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, but the results weren't very interesting or they were too personal.

    Anyway, just because I choose a city from Italy when I showcase a new Google Earth feature, it doesn't mean I'm Italian. Just because I include a screenshot of a French-English translation, it doesn't mean I'm from France.

  7. I think there are 2 reasons it is hidden for now:
    1. They are using it to polish their machine language translation system using our mails. Analyze the pattern, store it as part of their Natural Language Processing system.
    2. After I tried to send an email in other language to myself. The webclips ads changes, now it has the advertisements from the languages that I used to send to myself.

    I tried Japanese, German, Indonesian. All works, even the advertisements

  8. @Sub:
    Language detection is different than machine translation and easier to do.

  9. Google will announce this features next release :P

  10. I've been fortunate enough to not be getting messages in other languages.

    (considering it's still spam, it's still not wanted)

    I think the best part of the article is being able to translate from one language to another within GMAIL.

  11. I think I didn't find the answer to my querries?

    1. My site utilizes Google translate
    however the adsense doesn't auto translate how come?

    2.Gmail is my mail of choice and I often get mail in languages other than English which I would like to translate to english and read how do I do that? Thank you in advance.

  12. @Butch:

    1. AdSense ads are rendered in an iframe using JavaScript, they're not a part of a page. Google can only translate the text from a page that's available in the source code.

    2. Copy the text of your email and paste it in Google Translate's input box.

  13. Why is this feature no longer available? :|