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Browser-based dictionaries and translation

March 24, 2011

There are many free dictionary and translation tools available through your favorite browser, and several ways to access them. Listed below are some examples. They’re meant to be representative, rather than exhaustive. The tools are biased towards Firefox as a browser and reflect the fact that I speak Spanish. However, you should have no problem finding analogous tools for other browsers and languages.

  1. Website – visit the site and enter a word you want translated
    • – English to English (see their tool page)
    • – English to any of 15 languages and back, with discussion forums where users pose and answer tricky translation questions. This is my favorite dictionary.
    • RAE dictionary – authoritative Spanish to Spanish
  2. Search tool add-on – instead of searching Google, choose a dictionary and enter a word to translate. This is the option I use most, but your needs will probably be different from mine.
  3. Plugin – select a word on a web page and receive a translation. One example is BabelFish Instant Translation for Firefox. Sounds like a neat idea? For me, it just gets in the way.
  4. Page translation – feed in a URL and receive a translation of the entire page. You’ll need to correct the results, but it can speed up translation. I set Google Translate loose on a recent blog post and was surprised how good the Spanish translation turned out – much better than Babelfish on the same article. Here’s a video about one of the Google Chrome browser’s translation features:

NOTE: some web pages suggest that you install the Google Toolbar, but you don’t have to. Your browser ought to support other ways to do translations and look-ups.

All of these services are shortcuts and best used as reminders and guides. Human beings are much better at all of this!

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