The web is becoming the research tool of choice for translators. Need a definition for a term? Search for it. Want to see if a marketing brochure was previously translated? Google is your friend.
The vastness of multilingual materials available on the web is both a source of wonder and frustration. For many expressions or passages, users need some pretty advanced knowledge to craft a search that returns usable information. A couple of new tools are hoping to make this easier for linguists.
Linguee and MyMemory, for instance, scour the Internet for documents that are available in several languages (for example, on corporate sites or on sites of the European Union). The tools' algorithms then try to analyze the quality of these sources.
What is really nice about these tools is that they offer context. Both tools allow users to add their own suggested translation and to rate the quality of existing translations. And that's the beauty of it - with every user's rating or addition, the tool gets better.
Both tools allow for some off-site work. Linguee provides an iPhone app and MyMemory makes available an API and CAT integration.
But there are significant drawbacks too. Linguee is available for German and English only. It is very good in those two languages but if you happen to work in different languages, then you're out of luck (for now).
MyMemory supports many more languages but in my informal tests, MyMemory seems to have a much smaller base of user-supplied content. If it can't find user-generated translations, the site shows results from Wikipedia, Google Translate, and other sites. A good idea in theory but it significantly dilutes the premise of quality through human contributions.
A mixed bag for now but it will be interesting to see how these tools develop.
[Thanks to Roberto Savelli and Fidus Interpres for the leads!]
Want to read a bit more? Here are three related articles:
- Primer: Translation memory vs. glossary
- List of pharmaceutical glossaries
- Medical glossary in nine European languages
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