Use Google to search in other languages!
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Quick summary in ten words or less
find foreign websites that talk about your subject

Short description (~1 to 3 sentences)

This is amazing. If you speak English, put in your search terms in "English". Specify what language you want to search in. Get the results in that language, along with the web page translated into English.

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Long description

Another, newer approach to the multilingual web comes from Google: Translated Search ( is still in beta, but it combines several search and translation tools into one. Enter a search term in one language, and Google will translate the query into the target language. Start with an English query, and Translated Search can translate the query into one of 14 other languages: Arabic, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish.

After the search query has been translated and run, Google displays two columns of results. The right column has the results in the target language. The left column has links to translated copies of the webpages in the original language of the query. For example, when searching for Arabic pages about knowledge management, Google translates the query into and then pulls up results.

The display of the results in parallel includes the titles, keyword-in-context extract, URLs, and cache links for both. The cached copy of the translated page has the text translated as well. The cached copy of the page in the other language has a link label to the cache that is also in that language so that in Arabic search, for example, the cached link is right next to the URL (the URLs are not translated).

I find Translated Search especially useful for the non-Latin alphabet languages: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. To my own disappointment, I am not literate in any of these languages, but now I can search them and have some idea on what is being written on webpages in those languages. This works well for names (brand names, personal names, and organizational names). Wondering what the Korean web space might be saying about ProQuest GenderWatch? That query does not get translated, but it brings up nine results with translated web- pages. While this is similar to just using a language limit, the display of translated and untranslated results in parallel presents an easier way to choose which pages to view.

This approach does not work with a name containing translatable words. A search on ProQuest Historical Annual Reports becomes proquest . But this is where another Google innovation, which was introduced with the Translated Search, can be used. Google is trying to harness the power of the collective mind, somewhat like Wikipedia’s approach, and asks for user feedback on the translated query and the translations. Each time Translated Search is used, the translated query is shown along with a “Not quite right? Edit” link that allows the searcher to change the query translation. For this example, a searcher can change the entire query string back to the English ProQuest Historical Annual Reports. Unfortunately, some of the results then end up being English language pages.

This user feedback on translations could eventually help improve the translations, assuming a sufficient quantity of multilingual users chose to contribute. In addition to the query translation correction, Google has enabled user corrections directly on translated pages. Simply mouse over a paragraph on the translated page, and a speech bubble pops up with the original text and another link to “Suggest a better translation.”

With translated search, language limits, and machine translation all available online for free, even the monolingual searcher can explore information content written in other languages. It takes some search flexibility and a heavy dose of skepticism about the accuracy of the translations. Even so, with multiple translation tools using differing underlying technologies, searchers can gain a general sense of the content on non-English pages. For those needing accurate translations, these tools can help decide which pages are worth the cost of buying a professional translation. For the rest of us, the tools can give an insight into conversations, opinions, and professional web content in otherwise inaccessible languages.
Greg R. Notess (; is reference team leader at Montana State University and founder of

Rating (1 to 100) 75 = very good; 50 = good; 1 = unknown

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