Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I just had to perform one of the most feared things to do as a libriarian (at least for me); catalog a foreign language book. Yikes. This particular book was in French. The title is "Secouée mais secourue" by Paula Ort. The word "secourue" was in the title which sound kind of like "succor" which means to "assistance in times of difficulty" (Visuwords.com) so I had a bit of idea as to what it might be about. I was on the right track, but didn't know what the book was truly about until I used Babelfish to translate a portion of it. A word of caution, however. Don't just type in Babelfish.com. You will get a site that tries to get you to use professional translation companies. This site doesn't actually translate anything. The site to use was purchased by Yahoo awhile back, so go to http://babelfish.yahoo.com/.

I typed in the first 3 paragraphs in French into Babelfish and had it translated into English. I found out that the author of the book woke up in the middle of the night when she heard some young people talking outside of her window. Then she felt something under her armpit and knew she had a tumor. Okay, I wasn't expecting that! Once I figured that much out, and by scanning through more of the book, I was able to get enough information to catalog it. I think Rivendell College Library is the only library in the world with this book! I couldn't find it anywhere else.

Back to Babelfish. If you have whole parts of a language you need to have translated, this is a great site. It is different than a dictionary since it will take a whole paragraph or sentence or whatever and translate it. There is also a link to where you can have a whole webpage translated. Just copy and paste the URL into the appropriate box on Babelfish and it will translate the whole original page! The syntax into English might not be perfect, but you can certainly get the idea of it.

Babelfish is a really powerful tool. So don't be afraid of foreign language websites. You might be able to get it translated as long as the site is in Chinese (simp.), Chinese (trad.), Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish.

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