I hope everyone is having a lovely summer (or winter for my one non-Australian reader). Some of you have time off (and are gloating to me about it) and others are working through like me.

For those of you working through, this week’s topic will be translation tools. ie Babelfish/Worldfish from Altavista, SysTranBox or Google’s fancy ooh-la-la Language Tools.

I’ve always been a big Babelfish person myself. It is powered using the SysTran language tools and was one of the earliest big online translation tools. It uses SysTran software to power it and is rather good in European languages. It also contains the CJK languages.

SysTranBox (being powered by SysTran) has the same functionality as Babelfish but also contains translation in Arabic (but no CJK).

Google Language Tools is perhaps the most interesting tool though. It is fairly new but very comprehensive. It translates in the major European languages in addition to Arabic and the CJK languages. What is interesting though is that it allows you to perform searches in one language and have search results in another. It translates my search term, performs the search and then brings results back translated for me.

iePicture this: I am at the reference desk in my big armchair with a daiquiri in one hand and a Mills & Boon novel in the other when suddenly a young woman comes in wanting recipes in Arabic. Having the l33t cooking skills that I do (I can make porridge and I can sometimes not burn toast) I know that I will have to consult the internet. Onto Google Language Tools, I type in ‘recipes’ and tada, I have one column for Arabic recipe websites and another column of English translations to them. I can look through my column to see if there is anything that stands out as being useful and, once I have found something that seems good, I click on the Arabic result and my patron has her recipes. She then proceeds to worship me as the god of knowledge that I am.

Ah, I love my dreams. A shame I don’t like daiquiris or Mills & Boon.

The worst thing about all of this is that none of the major tools translate Vietnamese. For that I use VDict Translation. It translates. It’s quick. You can also roll over words with the mouse and it gives you brief definitions…lovely.

Translation tools

One thought on “Translation tools

  • January 15, 2008 at 6:05 am

    I tried bablefish and put in “The boy stood on the burning deck”, the first line of a piece of poetry that my father quotes. I went from Eng to Fre to Ger to Fre and back to Eng (or someting like that)and I ended up with “the boy stood on the burning cover”. Obviously there was a fire in the Library and he was trying to put it out, doesn’t quite present the same image as a burning ship. It wasn’t a bad way to spend the last few minutes before knocking off time


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