Tools To Help With Language Barriers

One of the difficulties in sharing information internationally has been language. Groups from all over the world are following the events in Fukushima. Pertinent documents are in so many different languages. Documents on Chernobyl might be in German. Nuclear information from the US in English. Important documents in Japan in Japanese, also newspaper articles and first person accounts.

Many people throughout the world don’t speak or read a second language, or the right one to decode that important bit of information. Over the last five months we have found some coping mechanisms to help.

Google Chrome:

This has been very useful while doing research. Google Chrome will automatically translate most web pages into the language your computer uses. When Chrome won’t automatically translate the Google Translate Chrome extension can help force the translator to translate the page.

Google Chrome (JP)
Google Chrome (EN)
Google Chrome (FR)
Google Chrome (DE)
Google Chrome (ES)

Google Translate Chrome Extension (JP)
Google Translate Chrome Extension (EN)
Google Translate Chrome Extension (FR)
Google Translate Chrome Extension (DE)
Google Translate Chrome Extension (ES)

Google Translate is also quite useful as a stand alone program. It can translate some PDF documents and accepts cut and paste text for translation.

Google Translate (JP)
Google Translate (EN)
Google Translate (FR)
Google Translate (DE)
Google Translate (ES)

YouTube has an easy to use subtitles feature. When you upload a video you can also upload a text file of the dialogue in your language. YouTube will take that text file and create subtitles in other languages that users can display by using the “CC” closed caption button below the video. YouTube has also added a “Transcribe Audio” feature that can be used to create a transcription. Find out more at YouTube

WordPress has a plugin from Google called the Google Ajax Translator. It is what we use on our site. The best way to find it is to use the WordPress site in your language and search for it in the Plug-ins area.

Sometimes Google’s tools just can’t handle some language oddity. Yahoo’s Babelfish can give a second opinion. Sometimes it handles translations differently giving a different result.

Even with all these tools sometimes a translation can be challenging. Words don’t directly translate, subtle meanings missed or a cultural reference not understood. When it doubt a human translator can be worth their weight in gold.

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
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One thought on “Tools To Help With Language Barriers

  • August 12, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    You might want to mention WWWJDIC, which I’m sure you know.
    It’s much more technical because it doesn’t translate text to text but rather part by part.
    It does however provides very good word by word or expression by expression translations which can be useful even to non-Japanese speakers to understand the strength (or lack of) of a sentence and even sometimes the history in it (most of the translations are crowd fed, so we can can come closer to get the real meaning, as a Japanese reader would get it).


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