Wordsmyth


Wordsmyth is an online dictionary and thesaurus that includes a variety of different dictionaries (beginner’s and children’s among them) and other tools, including an anagram solver, reverse search, glossary maker, and crossword solver.

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Linguee – A translators best friend

“Linguee is more than a German-English dictionary. With Linguee, you can search many millions of bilingual texts in English and German for words and expressions. Every expression is accompanied by useful additional information and suitable example sentences.

What is the benefit?

When you translate texts to a foreign language, you usually look for common phrases rather than translations of single words. With its intelligent search and the significantly larger amount of stored text content, Linguee is the right tool for this task. You find:
– In which context a translation is used
– How frequent a particular translation is
– Example sentences: How other people translated an expression

By searching not only for a single word, but for a respective word in its context, you can easily find a translation that fits optimal in the respective context. With its large number of entries, Linguee often retrieves translations of rare terms that you don’t find anywhere else.”

Translate the real world with Google Goggles


Traveling to another country can be an amazing experience. The opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture can give you a new perspective. However, it can be hard to fully enjoy the experience if you do not understand the local language. For example, ordering food from a menu you can not read can be an adventure. Today we are introducing a new feature of Google Goggles that will prove useful to travelers and monoglots everywhere: Goggles translation.

Here’s how it works:
Point your phone at a word or phrase. Use the region of interest button to draw a box around specific words. Press the shutter button.

If Goggles recognizes the text, it will give you the option to translate
Press the translate button to select the source and destination languages.

The Google Mobile Blog has more.

Virtual Keyboards on Non-English Search Portals


“This hasn’t been formally announced by Google yet, but industry blogs are picking up on it and so are our readers: the company has started to include buttons that open up virtual keyboards when doing a search on non-English search portals.

You can see the buttons when you run a search on Google’s main search service pages for Russia, Israel, Poland, Croatia, Palestine, Czech Republic and plenty more.

Clicking the button opens a virtual keyboard (see screenshot above), which can be dragged to anywhere on the screen by clicking the blue bar at the top. You can also use the up and down arrows to show more characters commonly not present on physical keyboards.

The basic idea behind the virtual keyboard is that users can enter the precise search terms they want, regardless of the language keys on their real keyboards. As Google points out on its support pages, this can prove particularly helpful to people who use one of the many non-Latin script-based languages that require special characters such as Arabic, Greek, and Thai.”

(Techcrunch)

Erin McKean redefines the dictionary


TED Talks: Editor-in-chief of the American Heritage dictionary, Erin McKean, describes how the role of lexicogrophers is really to “fish” for new words rather than to “direct traffic” on questions of language. In this talk, McKean discusses the nature of the bound printed dictionary and how digital technologies can potentially improve upon the dictionary’s centuries-old form. If you enjoy what you see and hear, visit her online dictionary: Wordnik or her blog.

Google Translate takes on the Cupcake challenge

Came across this lovely example of google translate’s fine work via salon.com and eater.com today. Eater.com found some nice New York themed promotional material for the new line of cupcakes McDonald’s Germany is currently offering and simply stuck the text through google translate. Hilarity ensued. This is one of the more cogent examples:

German Original:

Central Park

Geheimtipp und Central Park? Ganz New York hängt hier rum. Mein Tipp: Holt euch einfach einen Erdbeer Cup-Cake, setzt euch auf irgendeine Bank und genießt eurem ganz persönlichen Central Park Moment.

Google Translate version via eater.com

“Tip and central park? Throughout New York hangs out here. My tip: Just get yourself a cup strawberry-cake, sit down at any bank and enjoy your very personal Central Park Moment.”

Google Translate version as of this afternoon

Kept secret and Central Park? Throughout New York hangs out here. My tip: Get a simple Holt Strawberry Cup Cake, sit on any bench and enjoy your very own Central Park moment.

Translabor says:

The original google translate version sounded odd and mistranslated some important terms. For example ‘Ganz New York’ should clearly be ‘All New York’ or ‘Everyone in New York’, an Erdbeer Cup-Cake is clearly a strawberry cupcake not a cup strawberry-cake, and while the word bank may appear to make sense here(the bank of a lake or river for example) this is not the intended meaning – the ‘Bank’ that you sit on in German is a bench in English, the ‘Bank’ where you keep your money is indeed bank in English, but the English ‘bank’ of the river is a German ‘Ufer’. So far, so muddled.

The newer google translation seems to have corrected a few mistakes, but created a few ones in the process. This time they have got the translation of ‘Bank’ right, but for some reason the program no longer recognises ‘Holt’ as the German imperative form of ‘holen'(get), instead mistaking it for a proper noun and including it in the English version. The translation of ‘geheimtipp’ is also tweaked here  – to ‘kept secret’ – not much better than ‘tip’ in the original. A much better solution overall would be something non-literal like ‘Want a New York insider tip? Try Central Park’ or ‘Hang like the New Yorkers – In Central Park’. But given that google translate is still struggling with simple literal translations like ‘Bank’ this is not something I would expect.

So, while google translate is improving all the time, and is not bad if you want a very broad idea of what is being said in a language you do not at all understand – I would not expect it to replace human translations any time soon. Most of the sentences I translate are considerably more complex and nuanced than those listed above, and non-literal translation is very often required if you want a text to ‘sing’ rather than plod along. I could be wrong here, but barring the creation of translation programs backed by the kind of artificial intelligence that would allow the machine to genuinely think like a human, those of us who write and interpret for a living are safe.