11 October 2011

Linguee: A great online service to explore natural language translations

In the past 4 months that I have been learning Deutsch, I have heavily used Google Translate as a quick and easy dictionary and translation engine. However, there are times that Google Translate's phrase translations leave something to be desired.

In the case of a bad translation, one tool that can be much more reliable is Linguee. It is comprised of both official dictionary definitions as well as crowdsourced definitions from a variety of sources, particularly professionally translated websites. This can be very useful with natural language phrases (especially colloquial phrases) which are commonly used by native speakers of a language.

As an example, my results for "She owned to having done it." in both engines:

Google Translate result is "Sie besaß zu haben es getan.",
which refers to having possessed something.

Linguee result is "Sie gestand, es getan zu haben.",
showing that the engine understands the other
meaning of owned (to confess to).

Give Linguee a try if you are interested in learning (or just translating) common natural language phrases from one language to another (they support English <-> German, English <-> Spanish, English <-> French, and  English <-> Portuguese).