About the Translation Wizard

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What is the Translation Wizard?

The Translation Wizard is a tool which connects you directly to online translation tools. Fagan Finder itself does not contain these translation tools. Instead, it includes a listing of many translation tools, each of which has different language and translation capabilities. It matches up the translation you want with a tool that can handle it. Try it out to see for yourself. Enter text (or a website), select the source and destination languages, and click the translate button.

Using the Translation Wizard Interface

(1) Enter Something to Translate

In the main textbox on the Translation Wizard, you can enter a single word or phrase, a passage of text (i.e. full sentences), or even the URL (address) of a web page. You can even enter a web page in several non-HTML file formats. When entering text, you can also make use of the International Keyboard to type characters that are not on your own keyboard. You can also write in languages that are written from right to left. Clicking the clear button at any time will remove what has been entered in the textbox.

File Formats

The Translation Wizard can handle several file formats other than standard HTML web pages. You can enter a web page that is a Macromedia Flash (SWF) file or an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file. Before these get translated, they are, respectively, passed through the Search Engine Flash Viewer, or the Adobe PDF Converter. When translating with these file formats, expect to wait longer, as two conversions are taking place. Send a request if you would like other file formats to be supported.

International Keyboard

An international keyboard is available for typing characters that may not be on your actual keyboard. Click on [show international keyboard], below the main textbox, to use it. It will appear just below the textbox. You will see a list of characters (letters); click on any of them to add them to the textbox. A different keyboard is shown depending on which from language you have selected. If you have selected Russian, for instance, a Cyrillic keyboard will be shown. Currently keyboards are available for five scripts: Latin (extended characters with diactrics), Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. If any script is missing a character that you would like to use, or you would like another script to be added, send a request. The keyboard displays characters alphabetically; send a request if you’d prefer a different layout.
See Also:
  • Omniglot, ‘a guide to writing systems.’
  • PetaMem Diacritisation, a tool which can add or remove diactics for text in German, Czech, French, Spanish, and Italian

Text Direction

To write using a language written from right to left, simply select that language. The textbox will adjust itself accordingly. If you are using a right-to-left language, a [change text direction] link is provided above the textbox. Use this to switch between entering a URL and entering text. If you have already entered a URL before switching to a right-to-left language, the text direction will remain as left-to-right, with the option to change the direction still available.

(2) Select a Language Pair

Select the languages you want to translate between, using the two pull-down menus that list the available languages. If you want to specify a dialect (e.g. Brazilian Portuguese), then select list all the translation matches for the results (see Results Display below). Note that not every possible language combination will have a translator that can performat that translation. If there is none, it will tell you that. Send a request if you would like certain language pairs that are not yet included. To make selecting languages even easier, there is a <switch> button which will swap the from and to languages. For example, this will change French to Russian into Russian to French.

(3) Click ‘Translate’

Click the translate button. That’s all there is to it. However, if you want to get the most out of the translator, you can try changing the results. The Translation Wizard interface also provides an identify language button. See language identification for information about that.

Results Display

By default, the Translation Wizard will take you directly to the translated text or web page, unless no translator can handle the language combination, or the translator requires you to log in. However, for many language pairs (e.g. German to English), the Translation Wizard actually includes a number of different translators that can perform the translation. The one which you are taken to by default is the first match, not necessarily the best match. Machine Translation tools (these translate full sentences rather than just single words) vary greatly in accuracy, and it is often best to try several if they are available. The same applies to language-to-language dictionaries; one may not have a certain word, while another one may.

Below the translate button on the Translation Wizard, is a selection box where you can choose how to display the translation results.

The first option, go to the translation, takes you directly to the first translation match.

The last option, list all the translation matches, lets you see what the Translation Wizard is really doing. Similar to a search engine, it will display a list of all the translators that can peform the requested translation. Each one of these is a link directly to the translation, so that choosing this option requires only one more click that the first option. Each one will also have an [information] link, which will take you to a page about that translator. Other information is displayed along with each result, including the dialect being used, and notes such as free registration required. At the top of the translation results, links are provided to the language information pages for the two languages you have selected.

The middle option, list matches if there are several, is a compromise between the other two. If there is one translation match, it will go directly to it, and if there is more than one match, it will list them.

Language Identification

The Translation Wizard has a language identification page, which can be used to identify the language that any text or web page is written in. You can, however, access the language identification page directly from the main translation page. Instead of using the translate button, use the identify language button. It assumes that you want results for language identification displayed in the same way that you want translation results to be displayed. If you have selected go to the translation, you will be sent directly to the result of the language identification. Otherwise, you will be taken to the language identification page, where your input will already be entered for you. Note that for language identification access from the main translation page, it does not matter what languages you have selected.

Saving Your Settings

To save yourself the time of selecting the same options each time you visit the Translation Wizard, use the save options button. It will save three values for you: the from language, the to language, and the results display. When you come back to the Translation Wizard next week, you’ll find that your saved options are already set for you.

Matching Input to a Translator

There are three types of things you can enter (a word, full sentences, or a URL), and each translator can handle one of these, and any below its level. That is, a translator that can handle full sentences can also handle words, and a translator that can handle web pages, can also handle full sentences and words. A special feature of the Translation Wizard, is that if you enter something above the capability of the available translators, you will still get a translation. If you enter a web page, and the translator can only handle full sentences, the Translation Wizard will extract the text from that web page, and send that to the translator. If you enter full sentences or a web page, and the translator can only handle single words, you will be taken to a framed page which lets you translate any word with one click. This is best explained by example; try a translation from English to Afrikaans or Swahili for instance.

Special Pages

Language Pages

Every language in the Translation Wizard has its own page. You can access them from the list of languages. Each language page includes information about the language (such as ISO codes, alternative names, dialects, and script used), links to other pages about that language, a search box for finding pages written in that language, and a list of the translations that the Translation Wizard can do with it.

Translator Pages

Every translator in the Translation Wizard has its own page. You can access them from the list of translators. Each translator page includes information about it and what languages it is capable of translating between.

‘Translate this Page’ Tool

The ‘Translate this Page’ Tool is a tool for webmasters, bloggers, or anyone else who writes to the web. It is just a text or image link that you can put on any and all pages of your website, that will allow your readers to translate pages into any other language available on the Translation Wizard.

Custom Bookmarklets

Visit the Bookmarklet Maker to make yourself a customized bookmarklet for easy access to the Translation Wizard. If you don’t know what a bookmarklet is, that page explains it.

Technology Behind the Translation Wizard

The Translation Wizard is written in PHP, and makes extensive use of Javascript and also CSS. The web pages are written in XHTML 1.0 Transitional.

Upcoming Features

The Translation Wizard is currently in beta status. A number of features are planned, but that’s a surprise. If you have any suggestions, send them over. Expected additions are more translators and more languages.

Further Resources

Foreignword.com is available in a number of languages. It includes machine translators and tons of dictionaries (including two tools similar to the Translation Wizard), language identifiers, language links, news, a forum, translation software, and human translators.
LOGOS is available in a number of languages. It includes a multilingual dictionary (enter a word in any of its languages, and it translates into all of them, some with audio files), a multilingual verb conjugator, a forum, and other tools. There are also very useful toolbars for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word.
TravLang includes many dictionaries (which can be downloaded as the Ergane software), very useful basic vocabulary for travelers, and other resources.


This page was last updated on August 25, 2003. See the revisions log for more information.