Web Translators

Don't habla Espanol? Or Greek? or Japanese? Sometimes when you are doing Web research, you might suddenly find yourself on a Web page not in English but yet you need the information on that Web page nonetheless. What to do?

One of the first online translators was Babel Fish (yes, the name is from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) from Altavista. Still going strong, it now allows you to enter 150 words as a text block or translate an entire Web page to and from 12 languages: Chinese (simple), Chinese (traditional), Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and (of course) Spanish. Also, you can do limited translations between these languages (like French to Greek).

Google offers translations in 8 languages for a block of text typed in or a Web page: Chinese (Simplified), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. Or, if you want Google to display its homepage, messages, & buttons in your language, you can set preferences to over 100 languages, including Elmer Fudd, Klingon, Esperanto, and Uzbek.

Computer translation is not going to be as good as translation by a human expert but it generally is good enough to give you the gist of the text passage or the Web page.

In addition, World Lingo (which offers the same 12 languages as Babel Fish) allows you to choose a category such as Legal, Medicine, Colloquial or Economics/Business, etc. Plus you can ask for a price quote to have the word (or words) translated by a human expert.

Before going to a translation site, I must note that many Web pages offer their site in more than one language. Look for the word English or a British flag, etc. Also, look for "translate this page" next to the link in the results page of your search engine.

If you just would like to learn another language, be sure to take a look at Say Hello to the World from the Internet Public Library. Learn how to speak basic phrases (such as Good Day or My Name Is) in over 50 languages, plus follow links to sites for more advanced language instruction.

For more information see:

  • Babel Fish
  • Google Language Tools
  • World Lingo
  • Germany (Official Site)(In German)
  • Travel Europe (In Italian)
  • Say Hello to the World
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    Last Modified: 1/23/2005