About a year ago, I heard about Linguee. At the time, it was a search tool for a corpus of German and English texts. Unlike Google’s translated search, Linguee did not use machine translations. Every text in its corpus was translated by a human. In other words, searching for a phrase like “Articles of Incorporation” would yield human translators’ choices for the German equivalent, and vice versa.
Just as we can’t accept a machine translation at face value, we can’t accept a human translation without question, either. There are bound to be errors, typos, or any number of debates about terminology choices. But Linguee even helps us there: It shows the source of the translation (so we can judge its validity ourselves), and users can vote for or against any of the translations. You can even submit your own suggested translation. For those who want quick access to Linguee, you can also install Linguee Plugins (available for Firefox, IE, and Mac programs) and a Mac dashboard widget.
Imagine my delight, then, when I saw that Linguee had expanded: It now offers bilingual searches for English, German, Spanish, French, and Portuguese texts. If you have ever stared at a text and swore that someone must have translated this tricky phrase already… well, now you can check. It has a lot of promise for helping translators with terminology research. Of course, Linguee is not comprehensive nor does it promise perfect translations, but it’s a good start—and they have plans to expand!