Other translation resources

This chapter provides a list of free (often open source) resources that may come in handy during translation.

Table of contents

Online dictionaries

Some online dictionaries are simple glossaries, while others offer search features, reverse lookups, additional language tools such as verb conjugations or grammar references. Some also include forums when users can discuss the meaning and uses of various terms.
Many online dictionaries are based on their more established paper-counterparts (as some of the English monolingual examples below). It is highly suggested to familiarize yourself with well-established online dictionaries available in your language and prefer it to references of unknown or dubious source.

Tip It is commonly believed that translators only need a bilingual dictionary for their work. Actually to translate accurately, you should need at least three dictionaries:

  • the bilingual, of course, to check most established translation of a particular term from one language to another
  • the source language monolingual, to have a comprehensive understanding of a term in its own language (often, in the bilingual, some finer details are lost)
  • the target language monolingual, because, even when translating into your native language, you sometimes need to check if a word means what you actually think it means.
  • sometimes, to be less repetitive, a good thesaurus for target language comes in handy. But be careful to choose a term appropriate in context, just do not pick a random synonym from the list.

Multilingual dictionaries

The Free Dictionary

English monolingual dictionaries

Cambridge Dictionary

Translation Memory servers

Several organizations put their whole multilingual database online in a searchable format to help translators keep terminology of their own products consistent. When translating for an organization, this tools should be used whenever available.

Microsoft Language Portal Transvision amaGama

Tip! Many of this servers offer the option of downloading their database in tmx format for import in CAT tools such as the open source OmegaT. Just consider that maintaining the offline translation memory regularly updated is up to you. Also, online translation memories can be quickly searched through smart bookmarks.

Translation corpora

A translation corpus (plural corpora) is a database of selected texts with relative translation aligned in a side by side format. The advantage of corpora, compared with glossaries, is that you are able to see how a term has been translated by other humans in context.
Please notice that there is not guarantee the results are accurate. As always, exercise common sense.

Machine translation

Machine translation, often abbreviated in MT, is often associated with low quality, still it can be an helpful tool if used wisely. Of course it’s unable to determine fundamental aspects such as context or coherence. Because of this it should always be reviewed by a human linguist.

When using MT consider this: the shorter the string and more common the topic, the better are chances to obtain a dependable translation. Conversely, the risk of inaccurate translation exponentially increase as the string becomes longer and the topic original. To achieve best results search for small chunks of text instead of copy-pasting everything at once.

Also, if you frequently make use of MT services, consider registering an account so that the software will learn from your behavior and improve result accuracy in time. Tip! Many MT services may be integrated in browsers for easier research trough add-ons.

Google Translate Microsoft Translator.

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