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Faroe Translate

A mere 70,000 people in the world speak Faroese, although millions visit the islands each year. Faroese is not available on Google Translate. But of course, this is not the first time the Faroe Islands show Google the way. This time, it’s by way of Faroe Translate.  

Can advertising save a language?

In 2017 the Faroe Islands launched Google Sheep View to get Google to come to the Faroe Islands. Via help from Google a year later Faroese sheep had covered both roads and paths with Sheep – Street View. This became one of the world’s best known campaigns and resulted in a massive increase of tourism to the Faroe Islands.

By solving one challenge the campaign created a new one. More than double the number of native Faroese citizens arrived at the eighteen small islands and obviously tourists don’t speak Faroese.  

Thus, tourists threatened the tiny language spoken by a mere 70,000 people in the world. But it turned out tourists would like to get to know a little of the local language when visiting Faroe Islands. Only, that’s impossible. For Google Translate doesn’t translate to and from Faroese. 

To solve this problem, the Faroese prime minister sent an open letter to Google asking them to add Faroese to Google Translate.

Google ignored the letter.

Yet again, we had to solve the problem for ourselves. We developed a copy of Google Translate with one significant difference. Instead of getting an auto generated text you get a film in which a Faroese volunteer translates what you wish for. The world’s first LIVE video translation system!

In a short while the story of the Faroe Islands versus Google made headlines in many of the world’s largest media.

Hereafter the constant stream of new translation films was shared online thus creating a cycle of new visitors asking for new translations, all shared again, and yet again generating new visitors, and so forth. A virtuous circle.

Select results.

  • The PR effort reached a global online readership of 1,4 billion people, distributed onto more than 200 news stories, and the estimated PR value is worth approximately 150 million kr.
  • According to Google, Faroe Translate has more than 10,100,000 hits online.
  • The system generated more than 1,3 million translations to people in 181 different countries.
  • 41% of the Faroese population got involved in the project.
  • Measured by airport traffic the number of visitors to the Faroe Islands rose by 29% compared to the previous year.

Do you want to know more?

Rune Hørslev-Petersen

Contact Rune Hørslev
Phone: +45 31 34 57 69