Lingoes is a free program that makes a wide range of translation and language reference tools available at your fingertips, enabling you to access these globally from any application to perform word lookups, text translation and pronunciation of words in over 60 languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Portuguese, and others.
We’ve seem a lot of “global” language reference tools before, however, what’s special about this one is that (a) its focus on translation resources, bringing together most of the better/more well known translation resources available on the net into a single interface (including Google, Babelfish, Altavista and Yahoo).
Lingoes also (b) allows you to download and install any number of reference resources, some of which offer online lookups while others work offline from the hard disk. For those whose primary language is not English, (c) Lingoes is not restricted to English, as there is a wide range source/target languages available across many downloadable language resources. Finally it should be pointed out that Lingoes (d) is a translation and word-definition engine, but does not provide a spellchecker functionality.
there are a few things that are special about this one:
- Translation: gives you a choice of a wide range of online translation engines, including Google, Altavista, Yahoo, Babelfish and about ten others. This means that (a) you will most likely find a translation service for the language that you are interested in, and (b) you can experiment to see which service provides the best results.
- Word definitions: CTRL-right clicking on any word will summon a dictionary definition of that word (or you can look up a definition from a dialog within the program). What’s cool is that the program employs a plugin architecture such that you can download free dictionaries and add them to Lingoes. The screenshot to the right, for example, shows a CTRL-right click definition of a the word “authoritative” after I had installed the Vicon English-Russian and English-Arabic dictionaries (in addition to the default English).
- Online and offline lookups: you can use any number of language resources with Lingoes, some of which might require online lookups while others are available on your hard drive and can be used offline. Note that the translation services all are online services.
- Free downloadable resources: the number of freely downloadable dictionaries is quite impressive, covering most major (and some not-so-major) languages. You will find not just English-to-another -language dictionaries but multiple languages-to-other-languages as well. Speciality dictionaries for financial terms, medical terms, etc., are also available. You can optionally create your own dictionary.
- Multilingual: this isn’t just an English-based language reference tool; your source language can be almost any language. (See “free downloadable resources above”).
- Pronunciation : unsure of what a word should sound like when spoken? Simply click on the pronunciation icon and your computer will pronounce it for you using the robotic “Microsoft Sam” voice that is built into Windows (or any other voices that you might have installed on your system).
- Resource consumption: Lingoes resides in memory to provide on-demand word definitions and translation functionality, but only consumes approx 8 megs of memory.
- Other tools: a special tab reveals a number of non-linguistic reference tools, including a calculator, a units converter, currency converter, international dialing code reference tool, time zone converter, list of abbreviations, list of irregular verbs, and a simplified vs. traditional Chinese converter. I usually subscribe to the “less is more” philosophy of software design but these are neatly tucked away and, lets face it, can be very useufl.
- A universal spellchecker: Lingoes does NOT offer spellchecking it seems that this functionality should be there as well, making use of the already installed language resources.
- Better use of shortcuts: although the CTRL-right click works really well for looking up words, it seems that it should also work for on-the-fly translation when selecting paragraphs. As it is, on-the-fly translation is way too involved (first, press ALT-G to toggle clipboard translator on, then CTRL-C to copy the text/paragraph, which will prompt a rather jarring “No matches were found for … your paragraph”, afterwhich you can click “text translation” to get to the translation interface (and another ALT-G to toggle clipboard translator off). It would be much better if, say, another hotkey such as SHIFT-CTRL-Right Click sent the highlighted text straight into the translation box, or even if the program automatically knew that a paragraph was selected rather than a single word and defaulted to the translation interface on CTRL-Right Click. This would improve the user experience by leaps and bounds, in my opinion.
The verdict: finally, a free, desktop-based translation tool. Lingoes brings all the major translation services together in the same place and places them at your fingertips no matter which application you are working with. If you need a translation program download this one you will like it.
But what I really like about this program is its extendable, plug-in architecture, on the one hand, and the number of language resources that you can download for free and plug into it on the other. Very impressive (and very useful).
Version Tested: 2.2.0 beta
Compatibility: Win 2000/XP/2003/Vista + IE6 or later.
Go to the program page to download the latest version (approx 3.69 megs).