Faq & Tips for better translations

Having trouble with a translation? Don't know where to find something? No problem! We have complied a list of questions people like you are asking, and our response to them. You will also find here tips for better translations, and a general help section.  Good Luck! (Originally written by Andrew V. Liaugminas) Mezzofanti Translations

A) Tips for better translations

B) FAQ:

  1. Why don't you translate into ....?
  2. How can I get foreign language accents?
  3. Are the accents necessary?
  4. Most of the words I type are not translating, how can I fix this?
  5. How can I get already typed text into the translator? Do I have to retype it??
  6. How accurate are machine translations?
  7. How can I translate/view a non-Roman script (Russian,Japanese etc..)?

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Why don't you translate into ....?

There are thousands of languages still spoken in the world today. At Free Translations, we do our best to constantly search the web in hopes of finding new translators,and linguistic resources. Unfortunately, only a limited amount of languages are available for online translations. The most common languages, and the ones most in demand are Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese (about in that order). Another reason why there is no translator for a certain language is that many human languages, their vocabulary, and complicated grammar rules, would be near impossible for a machine to accurately translate. A final reason is that languages that are not written in the Roman script (Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, Hindi, Thai, etc..), and Roman languages that feature abnormal accents (Vietnamese, Polish, and other Slavic languages) are hard for computers to display. However, be rest assured that we are always looking, and adding new languages.

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How can I get foreign language accents?

Most of the languages of the world use accents of emphasize pronunciation of certain parts of the word. Others are letters we do not have in the English alphabet. Whatever the case, it is very important to include the accents and special characters when translating from a foreign language to English. Here are some ways to get these accents and special characters in Windows and Macintosh:

-----  Windows - open the Character Map program in the Windows Start menu. Or..

1.  Make sure your cursor is in the translation box, then hold down the "Alt." key on your keyboard and press the sequence of numbers (in the number keys above your keyboard) that corresponds to the character you want:
= 173 / = 168 / = 0227 / = 131 / = 132 / = 133 / = 142 / = 160 / = 135 / = 130 / = 136 / = 137 / = 138 / = 144 / = 139 / = 140 / = 141 / = 161 / = 164 / = 165 / = 0245 / = 147 / = 148 / = 149 / = 153 / = 162 / = 225 / = 129 / = 150 / = 151 / = 154 / = 163

2. .Release the Alt key. 

------  Macintosh - open the Key Caps program in the Apple menu. Or to type special characters on a Macintosh, use the shortcuts listed in the following table:

, , etc. Option-e, then the letter
, , etc. Option-i, then the letter
, , etc. Option-`, then the letter
, , etc. Option-n, then the letter
, , etc. Option-u, then the letter
  Option-c 
Option-s
Shift-Option-? 
Option-\
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Are the accents necessary?

When translating from a foreign language to English, the accents are very important! If you exclude an accent and/or put it in the wrong place, you will not get an accurate translation. For example, "la papa" in Spanish means "the potato",  "el papa" means "the Pope" and "el pap" means "thefather." The placement of an accent can mean the difference of two completely different words. If you want accurate translations, you need to include accents, andin the right places. 

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Most of the words I type are not translating, how can I fix this?

Some translators do not recognize contractions (can't, won't, we'll), clichs (let the cat out of the bag), and slang expressions (what's up, cool). Please see the Tips for better translations before continuing. Also, most of these translators are programmed for normal (no particular dialect) American English. Typing in British English or Australian English will unfortunately not always translate. Another reason for a word to be left un-translated is that there might not be a foreign language equivalence for that word. When translating from a foreign language to English, make sure you include the accents and foreign language characters -- that is the only way to get correct translations. Please see the two questions above for help with accents.

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How can I get already typed text into the translator? Do I have to retype it??

You do not have to retype the text to get it into the translator -- all you need to do is copy and paste. There are three ways of doing this:

1.) In your word processing document, highlight the text you want translated and find "Copy" from "Edit" in the menu bar above (near the top of the screen). Then when you are on our site, click once in any translating box, and select "Paste" from "Edit" in the menu bar above.

2)  In your word processing document, highlight the text you want translated, and hold down the "Ctrl" key. While holding it down press the "c" button from the keyboard. Let go of both. Then when you are on our site, click once in any translating box, and hold down the "Ctrl" key again. This time, press the "v" key on the keyboard.

3) In your word processing document, highlight the text you want translated, then right click on that text. Select the "copy" command.  Then when you are on our site, right click once in any translating box and select "paste".

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How accurate are machine translations?

The accuracy of the translation is based many factors - (1) how you entered the text (was there no slang, contractions, complicated speech, etc..), (2) the difficulty of the language and limit of its lexicon you selected (Japanese is much harder for computers to translate into than Spanish), (3) and the overall accuracy of the translator. If all is entered well, and computed well by the translator, you should have a very accurate translation! However, not all translations go perfectly. In any case, all translations will give you a general idea of what is being communicated. We suggest that if you need critical translations, hire a translator or take the time to learn the language that you want to communicate in. 

As technology advances, so does the sophistication of computer translators. In the future, we hope to see translators that use Artificial Intelligence to recognize the linguistic rules of grammar and sentence structure. This will bring the quality and accuracy of machine translations to a new level. Free Translations is at the forefront of linguistic technology. We constantly update our translators and links as new and updated material becomes available on the Internet. Be assured that what you see on this site is the most accurate, complete, and current available online today. Please stop by regularly to see the new additions to our site.

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How can I translate/view a non-Roman script (Russian,Japanese etc..)?

This is a common problem when translating to a language that does not use the same script (writing) as English. Our language script is called the "Roman" script after the city that popularized the type of writing. Unfortunately, non-roman scripts (Cyrillic, Hindi, Arabic, etc..) are the largest hindrance to international (electronic) communications and internet translations. This is because most computers are set to display and work with the simple English version of the Roman script. However, not many computers can work with non-Roman scripts, like Cyrillic or Hindi. Usually only special fonts can work with these languages. 

For more information on the subject, see Intertran's Frequently Asked Questions page: "http://www.tranexp.com:2000/faq.shtml#translation".

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Tips for better translations

Translators are only as good as the information given to them. For the best results, follow these general guidelines: 

  1. Keep it simple: Try to always use clear, easily understood language. Do not use long sentences with complex words -- the simpler the better. Also try to use complete sentences that are grammatically correct. 
  2. No slang and clichs: Avoid the common slang (in American English: cool, what's up, etc..) and clichs (let the cat out of the bag, etc..). These will usually be interpreted literally and will not keep the same meaning as intended. 
  3. Do not use contractions: Contractions (can't, won't, we'll, etc..) are not translated. Write out the full word (can't --> can not) to get the best translation.
  4. Check your spelling & grammar: Translators will never translate misspelled words no matter how good the translator is. It also helps to have proper grammar in your text. The better the grammar, the better translation.
  5. Check with a native: Whenever possible (especially when the text is important) check with a native speaker that your translation is correct.  
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2002 Free Translations by Andr Vignolo

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