Saturday, January 31, 2009

Babylon Websites

Last year, I was asked to try out the Babylon dictionary and translation services. I always feel a bit guilty when I am invited to review something and then don't like it as much as I had hoped I would.

The dictionary provides quite a bit of information for each word, though only a couple of translations (to Irish and Welsh for each of the words I chose -- not quite the most useful languages). And the translation software didn't work at all from English to Swedish in my experience. It kept offering me translations to a Cyrillic language for some reason. Spanish, Norwegian, and Danish worked somewhat better, especially the Spanish.

In sum, I'd say the dictionary is pretty good for language-learners while the translation software definitely needs improvement.


Sarah Alys said...

Ah, thank you for posting this--I'd always wondered how that software actually was. They asked me to try it about four months ago, but when I said okay, they said I had to post links to it on a half-dozen pages of my website BEFORE they would let me try it. I thought it was very crass of them to effectively require me to endorse something before finding out whether it was worth endorsing, so I never did it. It sounds like it certainly WASN'T worth it. That makes me feel better, somehow.

Carmit said...

That's interesting, because I use Babylon as my main dictionary and find it invaluable. When I don't like what it has to offer I turn to other online dictionaries, but it is one of my favourite tools.

This might have to do with the fact that Babylon is an Israeli company, and since my language pair is Hebrew/English, they are a bit better equipped in that pair.

Were you using the online translation tool? I have the software installed with offline dictionaries and have my language pair designated, so I'm not getting suggestions in any other languages.

B.J. Epstein said...

Thank you for your comments.
Sarah Alys, they did not request that I post their links first, so maybe they learned something between the time they contacted you and the time they contacted me (I first heard from them in November, I believe). That is indeed crass.
And yes, Carmit, I was using the online tool. I can imagine they'd be better with Hebrew or with a downloadable program. I kept getting translations to the wrong language!

Best wishes,

The Lady of the Lake said...

Irish and Welsh ... not the most useful languages! As an Irish speaker, I tend to disagree }:-P

I understand what you mean - but be a bit diplomatic, or qualify it a bit better, eh? :-)

"Beannachtaí an fhómhair chugat!" (... if it translates this, it could be useful to ye lol)

Kind regards

B.J. Epstein said...

Yes, you're right. I apologize!

Best wishes,