AltaVista offers a free translation service. Choose the language in which you want to see the prompts.
The translator will be shown in a new window.

AltaVista Translator in Germany with prompts in German.

This version can handle frames.
AltaVista translator in USA with prompts in English.

This version does NOT handle frames.

Machine-translation of human languages is far from perfect, but it is better than nothing at all if you are ever confronted by a web-site or with text that is written in a language which is completely foreign to you.

Machine translation works best on text if the following rules have been observed:

  • Proper grammar has been used
  • Proper punctuation has been used
  • All words have been spelled correctly

You can use machine translation to do most of the hard work.  Professional translators use computers to do the rough translation to save a lot of typing time if large amounts of text must be translated.  When the computer translation is finished, they go back and compare the original text with the computer-translated text and make the necessary corrections to the translated text.

If you are studying a foreign language in high school, please don't use the computer to save yourself the effort of doing the homework so you can go out with your friends.  The teacher will know that you cheated, because the mistakes will be obvious.

  • Unrecognized words will be left in the translated text.
  • There will be grammatical errors or awkward wording in the translated text.
  • Names of people and places will be translated into the destination language.  Proper nouns should not be translated.
  • Some words have multiple meanings.  When the translator picks the wrong meaning, the result can be a translation that makes no sense or is downright hilarious!

If you speak German and create web-pages in German, I have discovered that it is best to address the web-surfer as "du" (you, singular, familiar) instead of "sie" (you, plural, formal). This may also apply to languages such Spanish, French, and any other languages which make a distinction between formal and familiar forms of address.

Based on my personal experience, I guess this is the typical scenario for most children of immigrants.

If you grow up in the USA, have no German-speaking friends your age, and receive your entire formal education in English, you soon learn that German is not needed. Even if you speak German at home, your English vocabulary soon exceeds your German vocabulary.  When that happens you learn to think in English.  There is no other choice when you have to deal with English-speakers all day long in school!

At home you speak German but use an English word wherever you don't know the German word.  This is true for the immigrant parents as well as the kids.  Often German and English gets mixed.  Parent asks the question in German and may get the answer in English.

Here comes the funny part of the scenario.

Immigrant parent goes back to Germany to visit his relatives.  They wonder why he uses so many English words!

That was my father.  Having to use English every day at work for more than 30 years and hearing no German anywhere else except at home or maybe with the occasional visitor forced him to think in English.  He was asking me for help with English (usually spelling) but was peppering his German with English while talking to his relatives!

You may wondering if I will produce a German version of this site.  The answer is no, because:

  1. Little or no demand for it.
  2. Too much work.
  3. My heritage German is limited.

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