I came across a great online resource recently and wanted to share it with those of you who were not already aware of it. Linguee is an online translation tool which trawls through millions of bilingual texts across the web and offers contextual translations of the term or phrase you are searching for.
It's a fantastic tool and something that can be of great use to professional translators in their research.
But why it is so good?
Well, not only does it search through a huge range of bilingual resources to produce your search results, but you get to see your term or phrase in a variety of contexts ('context' being the operative word here). Any translator will know that context is vital.
It is important to emphasise that Linguee is a 'web crawler' as opposed to an automatic translator. Since about 95% of translated sites on the internet are machine translated, the people over at Linguee make a conscious effort to weed out the bad translations and not to use them as part of the Linguee service. According to their website,
'texts are evaluated by a machine-learning algorithm which filters out the high quality translations for display.'
It only deals with translations carried out by human translators and the majority of texts are from the United Nations and the European Parliament, i.e. texts that have been professionally translated.
The site is very easy to use. Your search results are shown in the form of two columns, with the source on the left and the target on the right. Another nice feature is that it also states the source of the translation and provides a link to the website from which it was taken.
As with any free resource, you must be aware that for every great translation, there will also be some that are not so great. It is up to you to use your judgement to decide whether or not you think the translation is suitable. Obviously a reputable bilingual dictionary should be your first port of call. But it is certainly a great tool for generating ideas as to how to translate some of the more unusual terms you may come across and which may not necessarily be found in your dictionary.
The language pairs available at present are English-German, English-Spanish, English-French, English-Portuguese, but plans are underway to add further language combinations, including Chinese and Japanese.