Recently, Google launched an update to Google Translate, their free online translation tool. The update will offer three new features. The new functionality will make the tool even more useful for students learning languages new to them, taking classes in a foreign language, or those doing research that might yield results in another language.
Google Translate is a beta service offered by Google which allows users to translate webpages and selections of text into other languages. It is quite useful when you’re doing research online and come across a site that you think is relevant but is written in a language you don’t understand. The user interface is simple to use, but it does limit the amount of text you can translate, so don’t expect to use it for translating long articles.
The update to Google Translate brings three main additions to the tool: reverse translations, frequencies, and synonyms.
Reverse Translations: One great way to check the translation of a piece of text is to copy the translation that the tool produces and plug it back into the translator to see how close the product is to your original text. This is especially useful for students writing in a language that is new to them – it can help them see subtle differences in words that they are using, and check their writing in the target language to see if they’re on track. The update allows users to see the most frequent reverse translations of parts of phrases, and it’s easy to switch to one of the suggested alternatives by simply clicking on an option from a drop down list when you mouse over the text.
Frequencies: Now, possible translations will be rated by frequency, and will be marked with ‘common’, ‘uncommon’, or ‘rare’. Depending on what type of text you’re reading, it can be quite helpful to show the other possible translations, and you can work with the context to get the best translation for your text. For language students, it can help them to not use a strange or rare translation of a word that they might not otherwise know to be uncommon.
Synonyms: Currently only available for translating into English (but hopefully coming for other languages soon!), the synonyms feature brings groups of synonymous translations together, so it is easier to identify groups of related words.