UPDATE: The supported language table below is now updated as of April 24th 2017. Differences from the prior table are documented in my Watson Pricing and Language Updates post, where I have documented the differences in language support as well as changes in Watson Pricing since my last post on Watson pricing from Aug 2016. Only the table is updated (and some typos corrected).
Unstructured data and languages is a tough nut to crack. To support all languages is not easy, but what is a bit frustrating with IBM Watson is that each service support different languages, naturally logical since it is different technologies and as an example it is easier to classify a blogpost as Swedish or Turkish compared to extract relationships or concepts as well as translate a text or sense emotions. Also, there is no Watson language support page that you can go to.
Challenges aside IBM Watson actually already support several languages for most services available today. This is impressive from several angles since many of the services actually require that Watson to be cognitive and learn the language from the beginning, just as we as humans do.
Watson language support per service
What I discovered is that it is really hard to find what language each service support, it is often buried deep in the documentation and only in a few cases listed on the main page for the service.
So, I decided to dig through the documentation and create a document that lists all services and what languages they support.
The list below is the result of me digging through the documentation of each and every Watson Service currently available.
|Natural Language Understanding|
|Conversation||Brazilian Portuguese, English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, and Dutch. Arabic is supported through the use of the Conversation API but not through the tooling interface.|
|Document Services||language independent|
|Language Translation||to / from (news domain) : english, arabic, brazilian, portuguese, french, spanish, german, italian. Spanish can also be translated to and from French.|
|to / from (conv domain) : english, arabic, brazilian, portuguese, french, spanish, italian|
|from english to (patent domain) – brazilian, portuguese, chinese, spanish|
|Natural Language Classifier||english, arabic, brazilian portuguese, french, german, japanese, italian, and spanish.|
|Personality Insight||Request Languages: english, spanish, arabic, japanese|
|Response Languages: arabic, english, japanese, spanish, brazilian portuguese, french, german, italian, koreoa, simplified chinese, traditional chinese|
|Retrieve and Rank||english, japanese, portuguese, spanish|
|Tone Analyzer||english, french|
|Speech to Text||us english, uk english, japanese, spanish, brazilian, portuguese, modern standard arabic, mandarin|
|Text to Speech (fragmented documentation)||input: brazilian portuguese, english, french, german, italian, japanese, spanish|
|output: brazilian portuguese, us english, uk english, french, german, japanese, italian, castilian spanish, north american spanish|
|Visual Recognition||Classify image method: english, spanish, arabic and japanese.|
|Custom and all others: english|
|Discovery Service||English, Spanish, Portuguese-BR (updated 2017-09-27) and German (Discovery News only english language news).|
I hope that IBM and the IBM Watson team soon will publish an official list that they maintain and update. The above list is accurate as of the date this post is published (UPDATE: This table is updated as of 24th of April 2017). I will try my best to update when new services becomes available or an existing one supports additional languages. If I find an official IBM Watson document that lists language support per service I will naturally update as well.