Online Translators: Babylon Vs. WorldLingo

Each week, the Education Techie reviews tech tools that can help students and teachers. This week, the Techie is discussing translator tools. Today's review compares Babylon and WorldLingo. Schools offering Applied Communications degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

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What Are the Online Translators Like?

You can translate up to 500 words for free using WorldLingo's online translator. The interface is fairly straightforward and gives users some options that aren't available in the other online translators I reviewed. For example, when setting up your translation, you can choose between subjects like automotive, political science, math and medicine. There's also a setting for colloquial speech. This may help the program recognize more specialized language.

Babylon's free translator has a very basic interface. You can enter in the original text in one box, select the original text's language and choose what language you'd like that text translated into. There's also an option for human translation, but this is a paid service.

Are There Additional Features?

WorldLingo's additional offerings, available for a fee, include a variety of machine and human translation services. One service you can sign up for is MyWorldLingo, which gives you unlimited access to website, email and document translation. Membership is priced based on how many languages you want to access. For $4.95 a month, you can access 15 of the most common world languages, including Japanese, Arabic, Chinese, Portugese and Italian. For $6.95 a month, you get access to those same 15 languages, plus 18 additional, less common languages like Finnish, Farsi, Hindi, Pashto and Thai.

Babylon offers a variety of services outside of its Web translator, including human translation that is available for purchase. Prices range from 50 words for $8 to 1,000 words for $120. The site also offers a software download that can allow you to point-and-click translate words and phrases in Web browsers, emails and documents.

Which Translator Tested Better?

In order to be more objective when comparing these two translators, I decided to see how they did translating the same material. As with my tests of other online translators, I used the opening paragraph of the original French text of Flaubert's Madame Bovary. There are several English translations of this novel, but the first paragraph usually ends up looking like this:

'Our class was in session when the headmaster entered, followed by a new boy, not wearing a school uniform, and a servant of the school carrying a large desk. Those who had been sleeping roused themselves, and everyone rose as if surprised at their studies.'

Here is WorldLingo's translation:

'We being studied, when the Headmaster entered, followed again were equipped as middle-class man and with a boy of class which carried a large desk. Those which slept awoke, and each one rose like surprised in its work.'

And this is what Babylon returned:

'We were in the study, when the Headmaster entered, followed a new dressed in bourgeois and a boy of class which was a great desk. Those who were sleeping is revealed, and each one is leva as surprised in its work.'

Neither one did a great job, but of the two, WorldLingo's translation is better. Bablyon's translation returned two words, bourgeouis and leva, that were not translated. In context of the story, bourgeois refers to the fact that the boy's clothes were not a uniform, and in the original French, leva is a conjugated verb form of lever, which means to rise or to get up.

Which Translator Provided the Best Overall Experience?

In the performance test, WorldLingo came out on top. In terms of what is offered for free, WorldLingo seems to offer a more nuanced translation service, with its unique setting for text subject. Based on these criteria, I'd say that WorldLingo is the better translator. However, Babylon's services do seem to be worth checking out. The fact that both services offer human translation helps set them apart from other online translation services.

Where Can I Find These Translators?

If you want to check out these programs and make your own judgments, you can visit Babylon by clicking here, or you can visit WorldLingo by clicking here.

The Education Techie will continue to review translator tools this week. Check back for these product reviews.

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