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Fantastic new Internet research tool for Germans: Linguee.com May 5, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Tools, Translation Sites.

Marita Marcano just shared this great research tool on the GLD list this morning. I immediately bookmarked it prominently on my toolbar. Although only a beta at the moment, Linguee is a powerful online search tool that searches millions of bilingual texts in English and German for words and expressions. Every expression is accompanied by useful additional information and suitable example sentences. It is an online dictionary and a BBI dictionary of word combinations all-in-one. It is essentially a corpus search, which is what the professors at Kent have been talking about for several years now. Now, you should remember that any term found on the Internet needs verification, but with the wealth of examples from so many different locations it should be immediately obvious if one translation is hideously off.

As the Linguee site so capably explains:

When you translate texts to a foreign language, you usually look for common phrases rather than translations of single words. With its intelligent search and the significantly larger amount of stored text content, Linguee is the right tool for this task. You find:

  • In what context a translation is used
  • How frequent a particular translation is
  • Example sentences: How have other people translated an expression?

By searching not only for a single word, but for a respective word in its context, you can easily find a translation that fits optimal in context. With its large number of entries, Linguee often retrieves translations of rare terms that you don’t find anywhere else.

Linguee is used like a search engine. You search for a word or a phrase, and you find pairs of sentences that contain the word or the phrase as an exact or similar match. If the search is not successful, it usually pays off to simplify the search phrase and search again. The search result is clearly arranged in groups of expressions and ordered by frequency. By clicking on the “Examples +” button you are presented with more example sentences.



1. Kevin Lossner - May 5, 2009

Very, very, very nice. Thank you for drawing our attention to this, Jill!

2. MM - May 5, 2009

I’m taken aback that people are so impressed with this site. To repeat what I said in a weblog discussion on April 17, it’s full of translatorese and you can’t easily tell – without clicking on a box – which country the texts come from. On top of that, which is the original and which the translation? Here’s another admirer, who includes a search for ‘Impressumspflicht’. If you look at the results for that search, it’s just full of ‘imprint’. And the sentences given at the top are obviously non-native translations (to put it mildly)

Yours, irritated in Fürth

3. jillsommer - May 5, 2009

Hi Margaret, I guess I just think of it as another source. I’ve been known to use Leo too, but discount and ignore a lot of the crappy entries. If you know what you are doing, it has the potential to be a good tool to help find the perfect term. Sure, there’s going to be some chaff, but a good translator with a good command of the language should be able to recognize when it is a really bad choice (like imprint) and select the grains of wheat. I just learned about it today. I’ll really be able to make a judgment after using it a while, but it hasn’t done too well with my stent report today. Haven’t found a single term there :-).

4. MM - May 6, 2009

Hi Jill, yes, I take your point that it’s one tool among others. What I use in Leo are the discussions, and the same goes for ProZ. My problem with Linguee is that it would take too long to find what I’m looking for. An ordinary Google search will take me to the native English sites faster. Like everything, if you’re working into your native language you should be safe, as you say.

5. Kevin Lossner - May 6, 2009

Margaret is right – enjoy it with a grain of salt. After a bit more work with it, some rather odd things cropped up. Still, I like the way in which the material is presented and think it may be useful in some cases as a sounding board. Things like “Imprint”, however, *are* purely idiotic. The first few terms I checked didn’t look that bad, but someone who doesn’t already have a clear idea of what the options should be might end up with an unfortunate translation. I hope it develops further, as I do like the basic interface.

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