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Posted on July 22, 2011 by Jennifer Pointer

One interesting thing about the "world wide web," is that it truly is "world-wide."  Although English is the primary language spoken on the web (which means you are relatively very lucky if English is your primary language), there are more and more websites of interest to Americans developed in France, Portugal, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Central America, and the Middle East as well as other places, and many of these sites are developed exclusively in the national language of their respective countries.

 

Unless you want to brush up on your language skills, there are a couple of fairly good (free) online translation tools that I've used extensively and like.  One is Google Translate.  This can either be accessed from Google Search or in the upper right-hand corner of the site (if Google detects that a site is in a language different from the language of your Google account or I.P. address, it will offer you the option to "translate page" out beside the web url).  You can also copy/paste either text from a page or the entire url in to translate.google.com.

 

My long-time favorite, and I was so happy when it became free, and available through Yahoo, is Babelfish.  The web-based version requires going directly to Babelfish.Yahoo.com, and there you can paste text or a web url, and translate from just about any language to just about any language.  This is great for communicating online with people in other countries. 

 

One important word of caution: a software translation is never going to be able to replace a human translator.  The translations may not always be grammatically correct, and in some cases might just be wrong.  Patience must be excerised any time you are communicating online, but especially when communicating with speakers of other languages.  It is important to give the writers and speakers the benefit of any doubt, and to listen and read with the goal in mind of understanding, not arguing semantics.

 

These free online translators, even with their limitations, open up wonderful doors of communication across cultures and international boundaries, so you are more free to explore and meet new people.  So go - have fun! The world is truly your oyster! :-)

 

 

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