Free-to-Use Language Translation Sites

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It's a Small World!

The internet and social media sites have made the world a smaller place. It’s a community that spans many nations in a mostly harmonious manner that I like to think makes us stronger as a species. Unlike the biblical tale of the Tower of Babel, we don’t have to worry about different languages tearing apart our unity.

Whenever I run into comments in another language on social media sites, I always use an online translation site to find out what's being said so I can respond appropriately. With so many free-to-use sites available, it’s quick and easy to do. Simply copy/paste and have your translation in a matter of seconds.

Here is my List of Top Three Free-to-Use Translation Sites:


1. Google Translate

Google Translate is the very easy to use. Type or copy/paste the text or URL you need translated into the box on the left, select the language you wish to translate to. The program automatically detects what language the original text is in and automatically translates without you having to click the “Translate” button. However, you can use the pull-down menus to select the appropriate languages and use the “Translate” button.

Google Translate
Google Translate | Source
Google Translate options allow you to see alternatives
Google Translate options allow you to see alternatives | Source

Google Translate's Optional Features

  • Show sample usage
  • Hear your translation spoken
  • Click on a word to see alternatives
  • Re-order the words
  • Select all


2. Bing Translator

Bing Translator, which used to be Altavista Babelfish is easy to use. Simply type or copy/paste the text or URL you need translated into the box on the left and select the language you wish to translate to. The program is supposed to automatically detect what language the original text is in, however if it can’t, you can use the pull down menu to select the appropriate language.

Bing Translator
Bing Translator | Source
Bing's options
Bing's options | Source

Bing Translator's Optional Features

  • Hear your translation spoken
  • Search the web for your translation
  • Email your translation


3. Dictionary.com Translator

Normally, I love Dictionary.com, however I found their translator tool to be less accurate than Bing or Google. As you can see in the photo, “Ciao, bella!” does not get translated to English. However, they have the option to “See more translation results below” which provides the option to use Google Translate right on their page.

You may ask what the point of using this one is when you can just go straight to Google Translate and save yourself some time. Good question. Dictionary.com Translator offers something that the other sites don't. Read on ...

Dictionary.com Translator
Dictionary.com Translator | Source

Dictionary.com Translator Optional Features

Besides the option to use Google Translate, this site offers a list of popular phrases that you can translate. When you click on a phrase, it brings you back to the translator with that phrase already in the translate box, waiting for you to select your languages.

Dictionary.com's handy list of popular phrases to translate
Dictionary.com's handy list of popular phrases to translate | Source

Sites To Avoid

There are other translation sites, but they rely on connections to Google or Bing and are cluttered with ads. Most of them are fairly benign, however there are a few sites that I suggest avoiding:


BabelFish

BabelFish used to best the best known translator on the web. As I mentioned above, they have been sold and are now Bing Translator. That doesn’t seem to have stopped copycat sites from littering the internet. Several state that they are using “clone” programs to mimic BabelFish, but none of the ones I tried work properly. Due to the amount of ads on most of these copycat sites, I suspect their owners are relying on the band name to cash in with ad revenue.


Applied Language Solutions

Touted on several websites to be a top-notch translation site, Applied Language Solutions no longer offers a free translation tool.


ImTranslator

ImTranslator has a dot com and TWO dot net sites under the umbrella of Smart Link Corporation and using the same logo. The dot com wants you to become a member of their site to use the translation tool without ads and the dot net sites are so cluttered that it’s hard to see the translator tool. Their main page is crowded with lists of options that include a virtual keyboard, spell checker and even a Russian decoder. Their non-member translator is so choked with ads, it’s embarrassing.

ImTranslator
ImTranslator | Source

Sites That Failed

I used the following phrase for all translation tests I ran:

Italian: Ciao, bella! Come stai? Abbiamo ricevuto la vostra lettera di settimana scorsa e sono stati felici di ascoltare la buona notizia!

English: Hello, beautiful! How are you? We have received your letter of last week and were glad to hear the good news!


The following sites failed the translation test and should hang their figurative heads in shame:

  • Freetranslation.com
  • InterTran

InterTran
InterTran | Source

Speciality Translators


Elven Phrases

Not so much a translator as a fun place to check out. This site lists various English phrases with their Elven translations.

Elven Phrases
Elven Phrases | Source

There you have it; great sites to use, not-so-good sites to avoid and a few sites of curiosity. Now, go! Communicate with the world!


© 2012 Rosa Marchisella

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