Whether you’re trying to understand a handwritten note your friend thought would be cute to write in another language, a mysterious comment left on one of your social media accounts in something other than your native language, or a foreign customer’s email communication, it’s always comforting to know that you have a friend in the translation service.
And I have this ... hunch ... you’re not going to be surprised when I tell you that friend is (wait for it ... ) Google.
Let’s pretend I told you I had something extremely important to confess to you. And then I sent you an email that read, "Es slepeni mīlu sīkdatnes daudz vairāk, nekā es mīlu torti!" What would you do?
If you were genuinely curious about what I was trying to communicate, you could fire up Google’s super-simple, instant translation tool (located right here: http://translate.google.com ), copy then paste the text I sent you into the box on the left, and click the nice blue “Translate” button on the right side of the page. (Since, chances are, you probably don’t know which language I’m communicating in, you’ll want to click the gray “Detect Language” button above the left box before hitting the Translate button.)
Translate entire documents
Google takes things a step further in trying to make language translations as convenient as possible. Their service will translate entire documents for you with the click of your mouse, turning the previously incomprehensible words and characters of an unfamiliar language into your native language.
To translate an entire document, visit the same address I shared above ( http://translate.google.com ), but this time look beneath the box on the left. In most browsers (I unfortunately wasn’t able to access this functionality in Firefox) you’ll see a link that reads “translate a document.” Click that, upload your file, and let Google do the rest.
Translate entire web pages
Ever come across a website that wasn’t in your native language that you wished you could understand? Drop the website address into the left box on the main http://translate.google.com page and Google will re-create that page in the language of your choice. (There are a variety of plugins and tools that allow you to translate webpages even more quickly, in real-time as you browse the web, but those are outside the scope of today’s article.)
Have some salt. Just a grain.
Google’s service is free, it’s fast, and you can usually flesh out the meaning of what the communicator is trying to say (or translate your own words well enough your recipient will clearly understand your intent).
Because no automatic translation is ever (or even close to) 100 percent perfect, always take the results with a grain of salt. Don’t expect perfection.
Erin Pheil is the owner of timeforcake creative media—the Web Design & Strategy company voted #1 in Best of Summit. Visit the timeforcake website at www.timeforcake.com or email Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org .