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Sprachcaffe's Top Translation Tools
If you are the kind of person who only refers to Google Translate whenever you need to translate something, you might want to take a closer look at this article. Sprachcaffe members form an international team and use translation tools everyday, mostly online. We thought it might be worth it to share our knowledge with language learners around the world!
"I love bab.la online dictionary! It’s not only translating the words or phrases but it also shows them in context sentences. As the founders of the project say, “knowing the exact translation often doesn't really help. You really need to "live" the language to come up with the right word.” And that’s the point! What’s even more special about it? The context sentences are real and up-to-date. The dictionary browses the content of the indexed websites and chooses the sentences which are used in real notes or articles. It’s my favourite!"
"When looking for a German translation of a word or phrase, my first port of call is always dict.cc. The best thing about dict.cc is that it provides a full list of translations in order of how frequently they are used. This is really useful for deciding which word fits best to the specific context in which you want to use it. I have found that dict.cc has more phrases than any other translation website I've used. There is also a free app which works offline and which, for a very small price, allows you to add words to a personal vocabulary list and test your knowledge on this vocab with the vocab trainer."
"As I'm learning German at the moment, I wanted to use a specific dictionary and I have to say I am very pleased with Leo Wörterbuch! You generally get quite a long list of results, allowing you to choose the right translation for your word. Leo even gives you examples of common phrases used with the word you were looking for. Also try the mobile app, it's worth it!"
"Linguee is an excellent tool for quick translations of more complex words. It’s my go-to website for translations - be it for single words or groups of words. The strength of this tool is that it shows every word in its context and enables to pick the exact translation in the meaning it was intended. It used to exist only for a few languages but the team seems to have been working hard on adding other languages. Hats off to them!"
“For each word you are looking for, the dictionary proposes different meanings and also shows different contexts of use. Just choose the translation you prefer and at the same time glance at the different uses of the word. Additionally the dictionary Pons offers a tool to translate texts which is very useful and fast. Personally I like it very much! As it is also available for IOS and Android I really recommend it to you! “
"I turn to ProZ.com when a regular online dictionary fails to offer a solution to a translation problem. ProZ isn´t exactly a dictionary, it is the biggest virtual community of translators. Besides allowing registered users to broadcast their professional services, everyone can take part in the forums or make use of the terminology databases, you don´t need to register or be a professional translator! In the forums you will most certainly find the right translation for what you are looking for and you can rest assured it has been validated by professional translators. It is particularly useful to translate official documents, where no risks can be taken!"
"English is not my mother tongue but I use it 90% of the time: for work but also in my everyday life. When I have to use a dictionary I will usually turn to WordReference. I favour it above others because it lists all of the nuances of the word I look for. It features English translations from and to about 20 languages and has a very active forum where some native speakers proofread your translation and will answer any of your questions. So if I somehow don’t find a satisfying answer from the basic list, I will always find it there."
"However, when I am looking to understand slang words or acronyms, I will search on Urban Dictionary. For each word (mostly English ones but not only), there is a list of meanings, nuances and examples suggested by users. It is a good tool if you are currently watching Californication or trying to put a bit of swag into your vocabulary."
Bonus: What can happen if you get the wrong translation?
Last year the translation company ELAN made this funny advertisement video comparing 2 English translations of a Japanese recipe. The first one was translated by their own online translator and the second one by Google Translate. So what can happen with a wrong translation? Check it out yourself:
However, always keep in mind that online translation has its limits and need to be taken very carefully. In case you have any doubts about a translation, always ask a native person to help you out!