If you have some text which you’d like to get translated then there’s usually no need to know its language. Plenty of online services will do their best to automatically detect the language for you, then translate it to whatever you need.
If your preferred service can’t recognise the language, though, it might be useful to have a desktop alternative like Polyglot 3000 to hand.
The program’s design is very straightforward, and works exactly as you’d expect. Just paste your sample text into Polyglot (or enter it manually, or open it in a plain text file), click the “Recognize language” button, and the program will deliver its report. Which usually means naming the most likely language for this sample (currently 474 are supported), and providing a Recognition Accuracy estimate to let you know how reliable this verdict might be.
In our tests Polyglot 3000 proved surprisingly accurate. Entering large amounts of text produced the correct result, time and time again. And even providing only very small samples made little difference. We tried typing three words of dimly remembered German, at least one of which was probably mis-spelled, but the program still told us that German was the most likely language. All that really happened was the Recognition Accuracy figure dropped to 71%, or “fair”.
Of course if you entered just a few phrases which also happened to be similar in several languages, then Polyglot 3000 might run into difficulty. You might see the Recognition Accuracy figure drop dramatically. Or it’s possible that the language might be misidentified entirely.
Fortunately the developers have provided a filtering option which may help. If you click Recognition > Prominent Languages then Polyglot 3000 will only consider the 119 most significant possibilities, rather than all 474, which could give it a better chance of coming up with the correct identification.