My Favorite Tools: Google Translate

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Jottings by a tech PR consultant on a tireless quest for the next best tool, application, widget or Website to help “balance” life between the cyber and real worlds.

    

 

One of the biggest regrets of my life (so far) is that I never mastered a second language. I had plenty of opportunities. 

  • When I was in Washington DC covering foreign affairs and defense issues across the Asia and Pacific regions my excuse was that there were simply too many languages to master for my beat.
  • I spent 10 years of my childhood in Saudi Arabia on the edge of the Rub’ al-Khali, and all I can say today is “As-salaam alaikum” “Shukran,” and “Wahid hamburger.” 
  • In my teens I spent several years in Iran, and all I can remember is “piaz.” What the heck does that mean? I know it had something to do with my mother haggling over onions in the bazaar. Pathetic.
  • I did take four years of French in high school, but I won’t tell you how hard my husband laughed at me when the petite cafe au lait I ordered a few years ago during a trip to Paris found its way to our table as a grande cafe au lait. (Well, you know what they say about those French waiters!)
  • I will say that I was rather proud that by the tender age of 22 I was finally able to understand my Grandfather’s heavy Hampshire accent. What? That doesn’t count, you say? Hampshire is a county in England. Ah well, I give up.

Fortunately, for me and the few others out there who are monolingual, there is Google Translate. At the push of a button on my Google toolbar I can suddenly read a multitude of languages including German (without channeling my great grandparents). This isn’t a new offering — it’s been around for a few years — but a lot of people don’t realize they have it in their Google Toolbar or even their Google Chrome browser, I’d wager.  Google Translate lets you translate select text or an entire Website.

Until I hit the Google Translate button, I had no idea what this Dutch blog had written about my client.

Suddenly I could read Dutch!

I’m sure not everyone has preloaded the Google Translate button into their browser so if you want to make sure that people from the far corners of the globe can read your page you can opt to add individual buttons that translate your English-language Web site into 57 languages. Urdu, Icelandic, Welsh or Catalan anyone?

Wish I had access to this tool oh say … back in my school days or in the Saudi suqs. How much easier life might have been.

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