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November 10, 2007

Translation Widgets for Your Site

Both Microsoft and Google added widgets for translating your web page into another language. The feature was already available at BabelFish, but the site makes a major faux-pas by using flags to represent languages.


Microsoft's widget (the second one from the screenshot) uses a translation system from Systran and offers 25 language pairs. The widget seems to work only in Internet Explorer and it consists of a dropdown that includes the message "Translate this page" in the available languages.

Google's widget uses a machine translation system developed by Google, that's available for 29 language pairs. The widget works in most browsers and it's actually a Google gadget loaded in an iframe. What I don't like about this widget is that Google cares so much about its branding that it includes a logo for "Google Translate", a link to information about embeddable gadgets and an option to "get this gadget". Microsoft doesn't add any branding to the widget.

Even if it's not flawless, Google's translation system is more scalable and we should see more languages added in the future. And maybe there are better options than adding a translation widget to your page: a mechanism built in your browser that automatically translates all the web pages to your native language or to a language you know.

{ Thank you, Dan. }

39 comments:

  1. Microsoft's widget is not good. Since it doesn't have any branding, you don't know what it's for or what it does unless the page says so.

    Also, since it says Translate This Page in many languages and it is a drop down menu, the first entry is in Arabic. Most people won't click there if they don't understand what it does.

    By the way, I think you have the wrong page encoding in your browser. You should install the language packs.

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  2. Good points. I changed the encoding to Unicode to show the Arabic text properly.

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  3. I think some readers of the German GoogleWatchBlog also visits your site, what about adding the gadget to your sidebar?

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  4. I'm not so sure it would be very useful. Here are the browser languages for the last 30 days (via Google Analytics):

    1. en-us 72.79%
    2. en 6.04%
    3. en-gb 3.93%
    4. fr 1.92%
    5. de 1.59%

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  5. I installed the MS tool (javascript) and this does work with Firefox. The translation itself is so-so since words are shown that simply do not exist. For Dutch translations that is.

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  6. The widget doesn't load in Firefox and Opera, at least on my machine.

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  7. I tried the widget on firefox 2...9 and it worked.

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  8. I'm not so sure it would be very useful. Here are the browser languages for the last 30 days (via Google Analytics):

    1. en-us 72.79%


    ..still, adding translations could bring more visitors..

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  9. It'll be interesting to see if they add a feature that detects the language of the browser, and puts that language first [in the list].

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  10. Maybe Google Translate should fix the overlays problems or remove them altogether:

    Example

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  11. I don't know how good an idea this actually is though on the surface it seems fine. Unfortunately online translation methods normally prove to be very ineffective and inaccurate

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  12. While the flags may not be what everyone may like... it is certainly easier for a visitor to understand that if they click their flag of origin chances are the page is going react.
    Either changes in currency or language.

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  13. What is the problem with Flags? I think it is easier for a non-English speaker to understand a flag than the English text "translate this page".

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  14. The problem with flags is that a language isn't necessarily restricted to a territory. What if I speak French, but I live in Belgium or Canada? The French flag doesn't represent me, so why would I choose it?

    In some countries, there's more than one official language, so a flag can't identify any language. There's no one-to-one correspondence between languages and countries (flags).

    Also read: Flag as a symbol of language - stupidity or insult?

    The conclusion: flags are a bad symbol for languages.

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  15. What would you prefer the flags be changed to?

    http://askaslacker.blogspot.com

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  16. The language name: English (US), Français, Italiano, 中文 (Chinese). Google's sites do that (example: Google Desktop).

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  17. I always use Applied Language's site for my free transaltion. They even have a free downloadable version which anyone can add to thier site flags and all

    http://www.appliedlanguage.com/trans/free_quick.aspx

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  18. I have already suggested another "widget" for Google machine which appears simple and smart.
    From french there are 2 pairs only but the idea is better than the one of today : the translator is both evident and discret.

    Please have a glance to ... and eventually copy the Google source code inside.
    http://royalartillerie.blogspot.com

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  19. When I see the Microsoft widget from my German system, it showed up with "Diese Seite übersetzen" which works great for me. I've played with my browser language settings a bit and could see that the language in the drop-down menu adjusts to the user's browser language (which makes a lot of sense).
    It also worked on my FF browser. I don't know about Opera, though.

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  20. GTS has a free tool which you can copy from http://www.gts-translation.com/webtranslation.asp. It shows flags and also the name of the language in its native form.

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  21. I wish they would come up with a Farsi translator that I could put on my site. I have some friends there, and I already have the Arabic translator. Oh well. I guess they're not as much into free speech as they are money...

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  22. This has nothing to do with free speech and money. Google will add new languages when the quality reaches a certain level. For instances, last week Google added Greek and Dutch.

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  23. hey all,
    yeah google translation can be a bit iffy at best.. but ive found a super solution and have been running it successfully on my upgraded blog http://JamieDunne.com/blog for a few months now. Its a WP Widget that allows you to translate any page and visitors STAY on your site... and better still all the new translated language pages get cached so google and other search engines pick up on it... im getting 10xMore traffic because of it.. Check it out out my blog.. its provided free by Nothing2Hide... enjoy.

    http://jamiedunne.com/blog

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  24. I use the Google translate a web page function a lot and it's ok except that I use forums that require that you be logged in and if you use the Google translated page the forums don't consider you to be logged in.

    I'd really like a page translator that let's you see the page in the language of your choice while still being logged in.

    Alternately, a split screen page translator that has the original language on the top and the translated version on the bottom. The translated version would use the untranslated but logged in page as the source for the translation.

    As you followed links in the untranslated window, the translation window would update automatically.

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  25. A very good Thing because we can change it according to us. and good looking

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  26. i try to setup similar widget. but it's more general. you can use it anywhere.
    please try and comment.

    http://www.widgetbox.com/search?q=dennyhalim+translate&m=50

    tia.

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  27. there's an encoding problem w/this widget in IE (pls see http://www.mta.info/lirr/, widget is on left column.. some languages with non-western chars don't display correctly), this problem occurs only in IE, FF is fine.. is there a way to fix this for IE?

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  28. Can we customize design of this widget?

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  29. This is all good, but could anyone tell me a widget that translates hungarian site also? I was hoping at least google would be international enough to have translations in hungarian to!

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  30. Yes, I simply never to look at any widget which promote their brand any at all. Its like even you open up an automobile showroom but the stickers/labels/banners all are coming from the botanical school. Lack of customization allowed/none at all which makes Google widget being abandoned instead of its quality. Here in this century, we people never look at the usage as is, we also look at their appearance/beauty as well.

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  31. Why do you think it's a faux-pas to represent languages with flags? And also, to what extent can a automatic translation service be useful, given the dubious results of most of its translations?

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  32. Does anyone know if you lose the pageview when a user goes to a Google-translated page? Thanks for any help.

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  33. I prefer to find pure manual translation by human brain as my materials are sort of difficulties for machine translation online, which come from narrow fields. If the automotive translation can select the exact synonym, I will give up a long term translation partner although their service is at comparatively low price. But I think this will be a long term struggle of human being's brain to itself.

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  34. Hi all,

    I am using google translator for my php site in english. Its working fine with main pages but when i try to post a form and get redirected to other page i got that page in english only. Same way ajax is not working on the changed page.

    Am I loosing anything?? or it is the functionality??
    Is there any way to solve it out??>

    Thanks.

    Dhvani

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  35. what ever....., but thanks, i can learn about it.

    Thanks,

    Rachmat Lasmono

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  36. Google translate working fine for Firefox 3.5 it is better Google also provide flag option so then there is no need to opt for other service

    http://ojoke.blogspot.com/

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  37. Cool! I also want to add like that in my site. Thanks for sharing this guide.

    -seff-

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