November 2010 Toolkit: Quick Guide to Online Translators

November 2010 Toolkit: Quick Guide to Online Translators

You don’t have to become fluent in your ancestor’s tongue. Instead, take advantage of affordable—if not free—online tools for getting quick and accurate translations.

Once you’ve successfully traced your immigrant ancestors back to their distant homelands, you may hit a new roadblock: foreign-language records and web resources. Thankfully, you don’t have to become fluent in your ancestor’s tongue. Instead, take advantage of affordable—if not free—online tools for getting quick and accurate translations. Many online translators, such as Google Translate and Bing Translator, are continually being upgraded and enhanced to encompass more languages and user-friendly features.
 
Keep in mind that translation tools are most effective at conveying the “essence” of a text, and are often stumped by the use of slang and jargon. If you encounter a nonsensical translation, try feeding the text or URL into another service, and compare the results. Below are five popular online translators that boast a variety of language and translation options. 

website
cost
languages features  tips
Babylon

$10 a month for a subscription; $118 to buy the software 75, including 1,400 online dictionaries; claims to translate slang and jargon Translates web pages and documents. Program enables you to control+right-click on a word in any application and view an immediate translation. Mac and PC compatible. Audio pronunciations also are available. Babylon offers free dictionaries for download and a free trial of its software online.

Bing Translator

free More than 30; uses automatic language detection, making it possible to browse the web in a language you don’t recognize Translates basic text and full web pages. Download a special translator to translate your documents within Microsoft Office (compatible with Windows only).

 Bing rivals Google with its translation bot (“Tbot”) for Windows Life Messenger, which enables you to chat with someone in differing languages, while it automatically translates the conversation. It also offers four different layout options for side-by-side web translation.
FreeTranslation.com

free for basic use; upgrade for $9.95 a year About 10; doesn’t use automatic language detection  Translates basic text. Professional translation is available for a fee.

 FreeTranslation.com also makes a free iPhone app.

 Google Translate

free About 70; uses automatic language detection Translates basic text, and full web pages, and allows you to upload documents (in a wide range of formats) for translation.
 
 As an alternative to going back and forth between a site and a translator, Google has devised a button you can add to your browser bookmarks that will translate sites (or selected portions of sites) with just a click.

 WorldLingo

free for basic use; myWorldLingo subscription $4.95 to $6.95 a month

32  Translates basic text, documents and websites up to 500 words. Professional translation in 141 languages is available for a fee.

 WorldLingo is worth using only if you pay for the subscription, which allows for unlimited translations of text, documents, e-mails and websites in 15 or 32 languages, depending on your subscription.


From the November 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

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