Thursday, March 06, 2008

The best tool for translation

This week, in the online course on translation I'm teaching for the University College of Denver University, I had this questions for my students:

What tools do we have available (software or not, narrowly aimed at producing translations, or with a broader usefulness)?

There are many way this can be answered. If I change my question to "What is the best tool for translators"?, I would answer that many of us who started translating when computers were not widespread would say the computer itself, and word processing software, are our most useful tools.

But what has changed life for translators even more has been the Internet. Formerly, one was limited to the dictionaries one had bought, hard copies of glossaries of variable quality, or some reference books. Perhaps an encyclopedia or two. If one lived in a big city with a good public library, there was more: still, even with a university library available, searches would be painstaking.

Now we have unlimited information on our screen: instant access to hundreds or thousands of source and target documents similar to those we are translating.

Now that there is so much information, what makes the difference is the ability to make good use of it and to separate the reliable and useful from the unreliable and useless.


  1. I'm a freelance translator and have been using Lingotek for about 6 months: it's free and just the best resource I have found in years. It changed the way I translate and work.

  2. Being an Arabic translator, I have a fairly hard time finding "good" resources online. Not only is Arabic language translation a considerably recent player on the Internet, the lack of standardization makes it a real pickle to find something useful.

    Still, since I'm a geek who knows his way around the dark alleys of cyberspace, I have my trusty set of online resources and reference materials that I habitually use. I rarely use "real world" material anymore, actually.

    I try to mention some of these resources on my site, every so often. Even though the site is primarily aimed at Arabic translators, I trust that other language professional will find a lot of the information applicable.

    By the way, thank you for an incredibly informative and enjoyable site :-)

    All the best,

  3. I think your comment about the Internet is spot on. Google is hands down my most important reference today, while my fairly extensive collection of dictionaries gathers dust.

    However, I'd say that the best tool for translation is still the human brain :)

  4. Ya i Agree. The best tool Human Brain for Korean Translation or any other language for that matter. There are Experts in Korean Translation and many more language translation service. Visit the korean translation for more information.

  5. Hi all,

    I think the answer is: no perfect tool for ALL.
    - First, how is the translator, with which profile: professional translator, occasional translator, free lancer, end-user ... or one linguist do translation and post-edition to perfect a MT (not so much, but this a career in MT system company)
    Each profile has own adaptation tool with basic or advanced corresponding functions (with equivalent cost, sure).
    - Second, the goal of translation: occasional (like using google, ...) to translate small and ad hoc documents, text, to understand the PRINCIPE of foreign text, or HQ translation.
    - 3, in which context: stand alone, web base ...
    - 4: which languages ?

    I should add a table here.


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