5/22/2005

Web Tips - Translation Tools

This week's Web Tip is from Paul McLeod, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times who is currently teaching journalism part time at Los Angeles City College, a community college with a multicultural, multi-lingual student body. He writes:

I have students from Japan, Bulgaria, Mexico, the Philippines, as well as Americans whose primary language is not English.

I find the following Web site from Dictionary.com helpful. It translates English into a variety of languages. It also translates from a variety of languages into English.

http://dictionary.reference.com/translate/text.html

It's simple to use, or as they say in Germany: Es ist einfach zu verwenden. It translates entire sentences, even paragraphs.

An added bonus -- the more you use it, the better your foreign language vocabulary gets.

True, it comes with a caveat that says it may not produce perfect translations. Nevertheless, I wish I had this tool in 1994 on a two-month stint reporting for a Times' Spanish language weekly. Although I have a functional working knowledge of the Spanish language, it's not my native idiom. Thus, I had a dictionary at my side at all times. I would have saved time with this tool by simply cutting and pasting a word or passage from a Spanish language competitor, for instance, into the translation template.

Another site you might find useful is AltaVista's Babel Fish Translation site (http://babelfish.altavista.com), which also enables you to translate Web pages. For example, here is what my site, CyberJournalist.net, looks like in Spanish using Babel Fish.

Both the Dictionary.com and Babel Fish translation tools are based on software from Systran, a leading language translation technology company.

Paul also tells me that his college site has a page with links to a number of tools for journalists. You can find it here:
http://mysite.verizon.net/res8dhka/laccjournalism101/links.html

Poynter Online - Translation Tools

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