Translating online - ancient and modern languages
We spend a lot of time with foreign texts - some ancient and some modern - that computer help can save days of work. Getting good help is hard to find, as they say, but here is the best which is available for free. And it is getting pretty good!
Tyndale ToolbarThe Tyndale Toolbar gives quick access to translation look-up dictionaries
* it has a host of other features as well
* highlight a word and press Ctrl-copy, and it turns up in the dictionary lookup box
* click on the down-arrow next to "Trans" and you'll see a list of languages
* lots of ancient languages and some modern ones
* also, if you get stuck in English, there's a lookup for 1000 dictionaries, and a Thesaurus
Perseus4 GreekType into the Toolbar and click on "Greek Lexicon, Start of word"
* if it is an inflected Greek word, knock a few letters off - it looks up the beginning
* you can type in transliteration or in Unicode Greek
* it goes to Perseus, and if you used Unicode, it transliterates it before going there
Hebrew also works in unicode, but the others are only transliteration
* don't worry if you are right - guess and correct.
* You only need a couple of letters because it uses the 2LetterLookup engine
Ancient languages : Hebrew, Syriac, Aramaic, Arabic....You don't have to type the words - just click on the first two letters
* then pick the word from the list, and go to the full-text lexicon
* Genenius for Biblical, Jastrow for Rabbinic Hebrew/Aramaic, Crum for Coptic, Payne-Smith for Syriac, and 8-volume Lane for Arabic
* you can also look up an English entry to see what other words they could have used
* you don't even need to know the Syriac alphbet - words are duplicated in a Hebrew font
Perseus for Greek Bible background textsPerseus has a large number of the Classical and pre-Christian texts
* see list of resources here
* when you go there, you immediately see the difference - the words are in blue
* click on any word and you get dictionary and morphology
* it is difficult to use the dictionary, because it keeps opening in a different tab, so do this:
Open two browser windows (click Ctrl-N or File > New to open a new window)
Arrange the windows so you can see them both.
Drag a Greek word to the new window, and it opens the dictionary in it
Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG)TLG is great - it has virtually all Greek texts, but untranslated
* list of translated texts online.
But what about when you have an untranslated text?
* eg go to the 2nd C Acts of Paul (this needs a subscription - sorry if you are locked out)
* there is nothing to help you translate this.
Alpheios Greek & Latin translation toolsGreek & Latin tools from Alpheios.net come to the rescue
* these work as Firefox extensions which give translation & grammar from any webpage
* get it here. Install in turn, "Basic Library" then "Greek" and/or "Latin"
* turn on the toolbar and click on "Alpheios" and toggle it On.
* click on "Language" and select Greek or Latin
* there are some quick lookup grammatical helps in "Inflection Tables" and "Grammar"
* you can close the toolbar to make more headroom (right-click on the top bar to open it again)
Alpheios also works with Latin* eg Virgil's Aeneid
* the Inflection Tables are fairly good at highlighting what grammar hints you need
Google TranslateGoogle Translate is getting better exponentially
* when you use it, and suggest a better translation, your input is incorporated
* it is a fairly intelligent engine, so you can't teach it rubbish, but you can improve it
* it works best with modern languages, though it is passably good at Latin now,
* here's it's attempt at the start of Virgil's Aeneid. Did much better than I would
* you can instantly translate any page if you paste the
following in front of the address:
Ma-agarim Hebrew DictionaryMa'agarim is a really useful site where Google translate doesn't work well
* it used to work in Chrome translation, but now you have to use some workarounds.
* Ma'agarim is the database of the Academy of Hebrew is THE Hebrew lexicon
* it contains and analyses all ancient Hebrew literature - Bible, rabbis, Dead Sea Scrolls etc
* unfortunately it requires a subscription
The interface is in Hebrew - all the menus, instructions, buttons
* and it really isn't happy in anything except Internet Explorer.
To search for a word1) Change to Hebrew keyboard - on a Mac at top right, on a PC bottom right - (you may need the Tyndale kit)
2) Type (for example) gdd, press Enter and you find bagad "to collect" or "to cut" in Hebrew/Aramaic
If you translated this, it wouldn't be very useful. Here's what you'd get (with the original under it)
* the root GDD has been mistranslated' as "Baghdad", Qal as "easy", and Niphal as "act".
and the two modern Hebrew synonyms for GDD have both been translated the same ("cutting" and "cutting")
To read results in context, translated into EnglishNow, if you want, you can translate this with Google translate, but you have to jump through some hoops:
* if you try prefixing the Google translate code (translate.google.co.uk/translate?u=)
it will think you aren't subscribed and ask you to login.
* so just do your search with the Hebrew screen (have a peek at my English version above)
* eg type in GDD again and press Enter
* you have a list of results: qal, niphal, piel, puel etc
* if you click on one you'll get the result in English. Instead, hold Shift and click
* the results will open in a new window. Do this twice to get two new windows
* in one of the windows, add the translate prefix to the address
* the English is very far from good, but it helps you find your way around.
The results are presented in rough chronological order - ie based on the completion date of the various collections:
ie roughly: Dead Sea Scrolls < Mishnah < Halakhic Midrashim < Tosephta < Yerushalmi < Bavli
In the first reference, Mishnah Makhshirin 6:6, "Mishnah" is translated "Sub" and "6:6" is translated "and and".
The text translation is very garbled too, illustrating how different modern Hebrew is from Mishnaic Hebrew,
how difficult it is to translate, and how far Google Translate has yet to develope.
Black translates m.Makh.6.6 as: "These communicate uncleanness and cause susceptiveness to uncleanness: the discharge of one afflicted with a flux and his saliva and his semen and his urine ..... ". Of these, Google only translated one word correctly ("seed").
The second reference starts with an abbreviation which (annoyingly) is not listed in the "Abbreviations" (top left of the page).
* presumably they thought it was too obvious: it is for Sifre Zutta. "Desert" is the first word in the book of Numbers, so this is Sifra Numbers.
But after this, things get easier - Google correctly translates references to Tosephta, Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud), and Bavli (Babylonian Talmud).
When you hover over a word, you get the vocalised lemma (when appropriate) and the root (really useful for abbreviations)
When you click on a word, you search for that root, with one-line results.
Some of the functions of the page don't work without the full headers
* so go back to the original screen in Hebrew, and try clicking
* eg to see all the occurrences of a word, click on it
* or, to see it in English, Shift-click and prefix the address with translate.google.co.uk/translate?u=
* to get the next page of results click on ledaph haba (left of the number)
eg click on the word highlighted above (amar, 'to speak' - so you'll get lots of results!)
* this click only works on the Hebrew version of the page, not the translated one
* highlight the address from the Hebrew page then copy and paste it after the Google translate code in the English window
* the box with "1" indicates you are on the first page of results.
* but as when you try to translate it, the English reverts to the first page. OK - I'm stuck.
Expandable plan of ancient languagesThis last site doesn't help with translations, but if you are interested in languages, you'll love this:
THe main site here lists all the ancient languages, and most lead to an interactive tree.
Click on Options (top right) and Shrink or Expand,
then double-click on another language to change the center of such expansion
Click on "Details" (bottom left) for very full bibliographies of these language relationships.