Article for Website Compass magazine
 
Global Connections
Other Languages Online
 
In the early days of the World Wide Web, it could have been called the English Only Web. As recently as 2001, 86.55 percent of the web’s more than 1 billion pages were written in English, according to Inktomi, a web search product company.

But experts say that figure has quickly declined with the increased quality and availability of Internet services in Latin America, Asia and Europe. In fact, the total number of new non-English websites passed the number of new English language websites in 1998, according to a survey by Global Reach.

As online language diversity proliferates, more websites have been developed as tools to find non-English sites and provide language translation services. Many search engines have become more useful to the non-English speaking world.

Search engine kingpin Google provides amazing multi-language searching capabilities from its “Language Tools” link found on its home page (www.google.com). This feature lets you search for websites in 35 languages and 67 countries. Type a phrase into the Language Tools’ Translate box, and you can change a foreign language into English or vice versa. (Like all online translators, however, translations into English can be generously described as “stilted.”)

You also can translate an entire web page from one language to another. AltaVista’s Babel Fish feature (www.babelfish.altavista.com) has similar language translation capabilities. Like Google, AltaVista lets you turn its home page into your language of choice and search the entire web or just find sites in your chosen language. (These settings are found at http://www.help.altavista.com.)

Here are some other translation websites we found useful:

  • RealDictionary.com. This site provides a quick and handy search feature that culls words from its translation dictionaries in French, German, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, and Spanish and presents you with their English equivalents. You can also look up an English word and translate it into one of these languages.
  • FreeTranslation.com. This fast and easy translation website has the bonus feature of allowing you to insert characters with diacritical marks such as á, é, ï, ô, ü that are often found in non-English languages.
  • Dictionary.com. This site features a translation tool that’s similar to the others described here and links to an impressive list of foreign language dictionaries, including translation dictionaries such as English-French and English-German.

More and more search engines focus on websites found exclusively in one geographic region. An excellent list can be found at the Beaucoup! website (www.beaucoup.com). Click a region under the home page’s Geographical menu for an impressive set of links to nation- or region-specific search engines.

A similar extensive list can be found at http://www.philb.com.countryse.htm. The Internet is billed as technology that makes our world smaller. And with the growing presence of non-English language websites, this statement has never been truer.

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