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Online Translation Tools VS Translation Apps – An Online Tower of Babylon

The world communicates in up to 7,000 different languages. With an increasingly global economy and easy access to different cultures via the internet, the need for high quality translation tools is ever increasing. English might be the international language, but this has not, as yet, rendered professional translation services unnecessary. Is there an online tool or app which allows for acceptable home translation without hiring a professional or buying an advanced (and expensive) translation programme? There are simply too many apps to make this an exhaustive review, however listed below are some of the most popular, free tools for quick and accurate translation:

Online translation tools

Google Translate and Linguee are probably the best-known online translation tools. It is worth going directly to these sites if you have a specific word or phrase you want to translate, rather than typing, for example ‘meaning of desperate in German’ into a search engine – that strategy typically results in a jumble of linguistic confusion.

  • Google Translate, despite a patchy record in translating sentences and larger chunks of texts, is very efficient in providing a quick translation of individual words and phrases. The user interface is nothing if not intuitive, and includes a ‘detect language’ function. Its biggest plus, however, is the extensive range of languages available – Google Translate covers translations from and into 50 languages. The speech option however is questionable – translation from ‘received pronunciation’ English into other languages works ok, but attempts to translate slightly dodgy pronunciations of French and German words into English comes up with gibberish.
  • Linguee is usually the preferred choice for linguists when it comes to the quick referencing of individual words and phrases – it usually offers several synonyms to the translated word, as well as useful contextual notes. Linguee is slower than Google Translate, however, and will also struggle with phrases longer than three to four words.

Translation apps

  • Google Translate can also be downloaded for free onto any android device – and works equally well on tablets and mobile phones. This way you can translate easily as you travel the world, which is very beneficial.
  • iTranslate is another free app available from Google Play. It can pretty much be seen as an extension of Google Translate – it translates words, phrases, and short sentences, also allowing access to dictionaries to check for secondary meanings. Voiceovers in most of the 50+ most used languages are available; these do, however, sound rather mechanical when asked to pronounce sentences and phrases. The interface is as simplistic as that of its origin, and also includes a ‘language detect’ function. In terms of free apps, this is one to get – translations are quick, efficient, and mostly correct. However, as all the tools discussed so far, iTranslate should not really be used as a single source for the translation phrases which are longer than three or four words – otherwise horrible misunderstandings are likely.
  • AllTranslateis a faster, free alternative to iTranslate (which is, however still the one the author would recommend!). Its interface is easy to use, although not as polished as that of iTranslate. An interesting feature is the option to translate a result from the target back into the original language – and these checks show AllTranslate to be rather more reliable than Google Translate! The dictionary features are excellent, the voice recognition less so.

For short phrases etc. these apps are excellent, and are very useful when needing to search for the occasional unidentifiable word. Attempting to translate more than a short sentence however would be a mistake, as no quick translation is ever 100 percent perfect.

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John Anthony

John Anthony

John Anthony, is the person behind
He lives in Bangalore, India & works for a service industry.
He is an aspirant. He likes blogging, reading, photography & learning new stuffs.
John Anthony

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  6. Narayan says: is the best for all kinds of translations..

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  8. Joshua P says:

    I found that with any translation program the grammar is often a mess. Especially when going from English or to English. I often use free online translation to translate documents from Brazilian Portuguese, to English and often times I have to go back and change quite a bit. It’s great for when you get stuck on just a word or two though.

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