Monday, April 18, 2016

Reverso Context, an app for language learners that can also help translators

A few months ago Reverso announced the release of Reverso Context as an app for iOS and Android, also available as a web page. I downloaded the app, and found something that will look familiar to users of Linguee: translations of words and phrases in context (hence its name).

The app has a slicker interface than Linguee and offers more functions and commands (see the screenshot below).  It records a history of your searches and their results -- a good way to find which terms to add to your glossary, although this function would be more useful if it included a way to download your history.

You can propose alternative translations and explain why the translations suggested are bad. And you get links to several other Reverso applications including free bilingual dictionaries.

The Reverso Context interface, with some of its features
The Reverso Context interface, with some of its features
  1. Search
  2. Search in Reverso dictionaries
  3. Reference to other searches
  4. Translations of the search term
  5. Filter on the target language to refine the search
  6. Translations in context
  7. Make favorite
  8. Copy the translation
  9. Add translation to Reverso Collaborative dictionary
  10. Report a problem in this example (for example, wrong translation)
  11. See translation example in context (that is, go to the site where this translation is used)
Reverso Context is aimed at language learners more than to translators. According to their literature:
"This way, users can seamlessly improve their foreign language skills in a way that’s not available in any other similar tool, learning how to use new words and expressions in their day-to-day lives just like native speakers do."
The claim of uniqueness is exaggerated, since the main functionality of Reverso Context (showing translations of words and phrases in context) is something that Linguee also does. Just like in Linguee, the prudent translator should check if the site from which the proposed translation comes is authoritative and reliable.

As for contents, sometimes Linguee has better translations, and sometimes Reverso has an edge. The major differences are that Reverso Context offers fewer language pairs than Linguee, and that Linguee leans towards Europe Union documents, offering perhaps more real-world material.

But we don't need to choose one tool over the other: the best way to take advantage of these apps is to use them both, together with your other favorite linguistic search engines, in a multisearch tool. I use them through WordWeb Pro (which I'll review in a forthcoming article), but you could use other tools, for example through IntelliWebSearch, Multifultor or even Xbench.

Reverso Context offers 10 different languages (v. Linguee's 25 languages), and while in neither tool all languages are translated into all other languages, the number of language pairs is greater in Linguee.

Reverso Context is a useful addition to our terminology toolbox. The app works in iOS, Android, Windows, and as a web page that can be used through a browser. Unlike Linguee, it displays ads -- but they are unobtrusive. Very useful.

Update

I've received the following message from Théo Hoffenberg of Reverso, with additional valuable information:
Hello Riccardo,

Thanks a lot for your review of Reverso Context. I would like to give you some additional comments or info, which you can use if you wish.

It’s true that it’s similar in approach to Linguee, and by the way, we had this design and plan five years before Linguee, but we wanted to have enough corpora and computing power to launch it at the level we aimed at.

It’s true also that Linguee has more languages and language combinations, but we’ll also expand and try focus on the main markets first, because we go much deeper for each language combination.

What is unique about Reverso Context
  • Main translations on top are computed by our algorithms and shows you the alignment. This requires a lot of engineering, linguistic and computing time to make the alignment as good as possible;
  • You can pronounce full examples, which is nice for learning;
  • You can save examples in your phrasebook (online and on the app too, and soon synchronized);
  • You have both spoken language (real-life) and official documents (more formal / technical) like EU, UN … and other tools have one or the other;
  • There is intelligent conjugation and definitions dictionaries linked for several languages;
  • It’s integrated in Reverso ecosystem with collaborative dictionary, full-text translation, conjugation, spelling, etc. 
Hope this info is useful to you. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you need more info / insight.

Best

Théo H.



2 comments:

  1. Thank you for posting not only your description, but the one from Théo H. I use Reverso Context every day. I hadn't been aware of some of the characteristics he mentions (such as the fact that pairs are ranked algorithmically), but they make sense. I like the fact that examples from both real-life speech and official documents are included.

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