Linguee – Web as a dictionary

Linguee  is part dictionary and part translation tool. Created by Germans, Gereon Frahling (who once worked at Google Inc.) and software developer Leonard Fink , the original German / English version of the site went live in May 2010.  Recently it has added Spanish, French and Portuguese comparisons with English and has plans to add Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Italian next year.

The interface is very user-friendly and it searches for common phrases along with individual words. The results are presented in the form of a two-column comparison table with the source language shown on the left, and the target translations displayed on the right.

A very important feature for anyone studying a language is that it offers a contextual translation and also states the source of the translation and a link to the website from which it was taken.  For example it was not only useful for getting the right individual word for the context but also for finding the comparable idiom for something like “a fish out of water”.

When I searched various words it did a very good job assisting me in understanding the context  of that word and also in helping to find the right word for the appropriate occasion.

The relevance and  accuracy is achieved by indexing millions of online translations produced by human expertise. Those at Linguee look for professionally translated texts on the public Internet that exist in two or more languages. The EU and United Nations, for example, publish most of their documents and patents in numerous languages. Linguee also looks for professionally translated texts on company websites and other public resources such as technical journals. This means that the quality of translation is very high.

Other features include:

  • Option to hear a recording of the words being spoken
  • The internet explorer search plugin lets you search Linguee directly and there are others for Macs and Firefox
  • A pie-chart indicator shows how frequently one translation occurs compared to others, helping to narrow down the most appropriate phrase and the frequency of the translation is also provided
  •  there is a ‘comments’ function allowing people to leave feedback

I like what Linguee offers but we don’t teach German or the other languages covered so far at my school but the Italian and the Chinese version will come in very handy when these languages are added.

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