Google Translate

The day before yesterday Google released Translate, a new search tool that lets you use your mother tongue to search for results in other languages, using machine translation of course. It currently works for 12 languages: English, Arabic, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Traditional), and Chinese (Simplified). The new tool is introduced in this press release from Google.

To test it out go to (Using simply will take you to, which is Google’s plain translation page.)

In true Canadian fashion I asked it to mediate between our two official languages, using the following search terms: "right to privacy" Quebec

The result was a list of English hits in a left hand column, with their corresponding and original French versions in a matched right hand column — very very handy. You can see below the first item in my results in English, followed by the original French result:



As you see, the machine didn’t feed me back my original term but rather re-translated from the French and got it wrong. Otherwise, not bad for a machine. There’s also an ability to offer a correction to the machine, if it “misunderstood” your original terms.

I find it amazing, when I step back a few mental paces, that we rather take for granted that a near miracle such as this can and should be available to us on command, from anywhere on earth, when even ten years ago it would have seemed passing strange. How spoiled we are by daily extensions of our reach into knowledge.


  1. When I wrote the global survey of the law of lawyers’ conflicts of interests seven years ago (, we used in an early incarnation as well as and – they all worked satisfactorily as long as you knew enough of the languages being translated from.
    I reran my searches on the new Google engine – and it is a lot more robust, and less prone to eccentric results. That said, it would be nice to get French, Quebecois and Belgian results separated, as used to be the case with

  2. ممكن نتعرف

  3. Google’s translator has Ahmed saying: “identify possible”