by Anna Heim
According to the translation firm Smartling, native English speakers only represented 27% of the total Internet population in 2011. Yet, 56% of online pages are English-only. So how do we break language barriers online? Well, here are a few tools that can help you browse content in a language you don’t speak – pages of course, but also video and even speeLinguee, tapping into the translation memory
I find myself increasingly using Linguee as my top translation source, especially to look up for a specific expression – the kind of tasks at which tools such as Reverso usually fail.
The reason for Linguee’s superiority is very simple: this Germany-based startup actually works as a search engine. Instead of computing expressions, it taps into a vast base of high-quality bilingual resources to find language pairs that were created by professional translators – for instance, content from the European institutions. In other words, instead of doing the same work over and over, we can now rely on existing translations. How do you say ‘nani gigantum humeris insidentes’ in English again?
Google Translate, automatically translating the equivalent of 1 million books a day
No matter what purists may think of statistical machine translation, Google Translate fully deserves to be on this list. Of course, its results are still far from perfect at this stage, but there’s no arguing about it. How long would you have spent on a Japanese website without understanding Japanese if Google Translate didn’t exist? Yet, we now routinely find ourselves browsing foreign pages — because we care about their content enough to go past the translation’s imperfections.
The most impressive aspect of Google Translate is its scale. It has over 200 million monthly active users, and translates as much text in a day as you would find in a million books.
Interestingly, Google Translate now allows website owners and visitors to edit translations thanks to an experimental plugin which also reminds us a lot of what Worldwide Lexicon has been working on for the past few years.
Worldwide Lexicon, leveraging your community’s skills to translate websites
Worldwide Lexicon hopes to get the best of both worlds, artificial and human. According to its founder Brian McConnell, it is very easy for bilingual speakers to spot and correct mistakes in an automatic translation. Hence its approach, which consists of finding people willing to use its plugin to proofread and improve machine translations of your website
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