Friday, February 08, 2008

“I love Google” addendum: Google Translate

There was another Google tool that I forgot to mention in my last post, which I just recently discovered: Google Translate. The way that it works is very similar to Babel Fish, which I’ve been using for years. You can paste in a chunk of text, or give it a URL, tell it what language the original text is in and what language you want it translated to, and it will translate it for you.

In both cases, Google Translate and Babel Fish, the results are pretty good. I’ve been told that some translations work better than others; I typically just translate from French to English, and it works pretty well, from what I’ve seen.

But of course, Google wouldn’t introduce a new service unless they could improve on the old one, would they? There is one very cool addition, that Google Translate offers: If you don’t like the way that it translates something, you can offer your own suggestions! Translation is a notoriously difficult thing to automate, so I’m guessing that this will contribute to vast improvements in the translation engine, with time.

When you translate a block of text, there is a little link at the bottom, where you can offer your own suggestions:

translate text

And when you translate a URL, Google brings up the website, with its translated text, and if you hover your mouse over any sentence, Google will show a pop-up with the original text, and again, you can offer your own suggestions:

translate URL

(You’ll see those screenshots better if you click them to go to my Flickr site, and look at the big versions.)

The text in the screenshots above is from a site that talks about prostate conditions, that was only available in French. Not that I’ve had prostate issues on my mind lately or anything…