Monday, June 11, 2007

Babylon Translation Tool

As I've written before, I'm doing the Hebrew versions of Apples to Apples, hampered by the fact that my Hebrew is not very good. My plan was to press gang my native Israeli children into supplying the needed cultural references and doing the editing (for pay).

This has proved trickier than I imagined. They are a little more scarce than I imagined, having assumed that the lure of money would be hard for them to resist. Nevertheless, my daughter Tal has made some good efforts on behalf of the project.

The red apples (nouns) fall into two types. The first are common items, for which no specific information is required and I need only come up with a clever quip. This is not so hard, although the Hebrew is still a challenge. The second are the proper names. These are easy to come up with, with the help of Tal and Hebrew Wikipedia, but very laborious to annotate with information, such as years and so on. As a result, the red apples are languishing a bit.

The green apples (adjectives) proved trickier than I had imagined, also, since I didn't have a Hebrew thesaurus lying around.

Babylon Translation Software

However, I just downloaded an awesome piece of software that made the job of creating the green apples a breeze: Babylon.

Essentially, Babylon is a pop up window which works in any application giving me not only Hebrew to English or English to Hebrew translation of whatever I'm selecting, it also includes a comprehensive Hebrew thesaurus. It is the exact tool I needed. I didn't even know about the thesaurus part when I downloaded it, but wow, is it helpful.

With Babylon's help, I created 250 green cards in just a few hours. Many of the Hebrew adjectives I could come up with myself. These I click and then select three appropriate synonyms (sometimes I came up with my own synonyms rather than the suggested ones, but rarely). When I had an English adjective that I wanted to use but didn't know the Hebrew, I entered it in English, found the Hebrew equivalent, and then found the synonyms for the Hebrew word.

Of course, I had Tal looking over my shoulder to ensure that I didn't make any stupid errors in forms or tenses that would make a Hebrew speaker laugh his or her head off. And of course, I will be passing the entire list through one or two more native Hebrew speakers before submitting the cards.

But what looked like many many hours of work turned into a breeze. I'm currently using the free trial version; I assume it will prompt me to buy it eventually.

Thanks, Babylon.


(I have no relation to the company, by the way. I'm just a happy user.)

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