February 5, 2011

Web becomes dictionary with Linguee

As professional translators, we know how essential it is to consider context when choosing the right translation for a given word or phrase. This is now easier thanks to Linguee, a free search service that retrieves sentence pairs from webpages that are available in multiple language versions.

First launched in 2008 in German and English by co-founders Gereon Frahling and Leo Fink, in September 2010 Linguee added Spanish, French and Portuguese comparisons with English. Frahling and Fink plan to add Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian and Italian later this year.

Co-founders Frahling and Fink manage Linguee at its head office in Cologne
Users report that Linguee's appeal lies in the context it provides. Search results are not limited to translations of single words or short phrases, as is usually the case with online dictionaries, glossaries and databases; instead, the service provides the entire sentence in which the item appears, as well as a link to the webpage on which it was found.

Not every result is reliable, but this is another way in which the context becomes useful: the sentences of dubious quality are easy to spot. Users have the option of voting a translation up or down, and can even edit an erroneous translation or suggest one of their own. Each change is verified by Linguee's editorial board and the community before being accepted.

Linguee is a free service supported by advertising. Users who create an account (free of charge) get their first 100 search queries free of advertising. And for each translation suggestion or change request they make, they  are rewarded with an additional 40 ad-free queries. Registered users can also join in discussions about the translations.

Free search plugins (for Firefox, Internet Explorer and Mac OS X) and a Mac dashboard widget are also available.

A Propos thanks Sheryl for sharing this on the list, and other list members for their feedback.

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