What are good ways to translate foreign webpages into English?
April 25, 2004 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Any way to get good translations of foreign sites or articles for MeFi or elsewhere? Based on this discussion with matteo in MeTa, there's a whole world of good stuff on the net we can't read, because it's not in English. Any ideas? (Google and Babelfish translations leave a lot to be desired)

oop--scroll up a little on that MeTa thread.
posted by amberglow to Writing & Language (4 answers total)
I posted about this once in Meta I think. I even tried to give it a go with this post (a spanish site which documents the different names for the bogeyman across cultures) but generally consider it a bust.

There are great sites out there not in English. Sadly its becoming accepted that if you dont provide an alternate English version of your site its unlikely to propagate widely across the blogosphere.

My idea? Create a site (maybe one exists?) where volunteers can sign up to translate text from one language to another. It'd work like Gutenberg's proofreader system and be moderated and rated so that good translators would rise to the top. If you want your site translated (not just to English but from any language to any language) you submit it to a group of editors who make a subjective decision on the importance of your site and put it in the volunteer translator queue.
posted by vacapinta at 3:58 PM on April 25, 2004

Unfortunately, Japanese machine translation just doesn't work well at all. You have to have the background to know why the gibberish comes out the way it does, and work your way backwards. Thus, the news about Japan is mostly love hotel murders and underwear vending machines from the kind folks at Mainichi. The best site I know of for helping to understand online Japanese text is Rikai.com. You input a link (my local Kyoto Shimbun and mouse over kanji combinations on the generated page for a dictionary lookup with English (mouse over the news links on the home page for an example). You still have to know the hiragana and katakana words and interpret the sentence level meaning yourself, but it's a very sharp tool.
posted by planetkyoto at 4:22 PM on April 25, 2004

Response by poster: has anyone ever tried foreignword?
posted by amberglow at 4:44 PM on April 25, 2004

My idea? Create a site (maybe one exists?) where volunteers can sign up to translate text from one language to another.

It's called Blogalization. "Blogalization is an open community of bloggers who post in one or more languages about material discovered in one or more other languages: if I have languages A and B and you have languages B and C, we can share memes across barriers of mutual incomprehension." Enjoy.
posted by languagehat at 5:21 PM on April 25, 2004

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