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Most effective terminology search using Google

16.02.2014

Every translator (regardless of the language combination) has come across a word or a phrase that is seemingly untranslatable at first try. Such cases are shared in our local network of translators with doleful comments, and it seems that a common mishap is that neither traditional dictionaries nor a search in Google can help find a proper translation… However, Google search is not that bad as this was proved several times throughout our experience. In most cases search attempts for the ‘problem’ words are successful providing one takes the correct approach.

Effective terminology search for English-Russian translators

Obviously, trying to find a translation of a single word/abbreviation by looking for such word/abbreviation only in Internet resources can yield very little effect. The key that really matters in such cases is CONTEXT. Feed Google with a context and it will surely come up with better results. Otherwise, you end up with a gazillion of words and phrases, none of which would fit into your text!

Speaking about the magic of a word and a context, those who saw a famous Russian comedy movie Charodei (Sorcerers) would recollect an episode when one of the sorcerers wanted to magically bring his bride Alyona to his place. He used a magic wand and casted a spell, but all in vain… He failed because his request was a one-word exclamation “Alyona!” The improperly specified order sounded as if he wanted either Alyonka, a popular milk chocolate produced in Russia, a wardrobe make or just a caw whose name was allegedly Alyonka.

Context is quite crucial for translation of abbreviations which is always a very special challenge. Once our group was translating an annual report of one prominent company. Both of the translators involved in the process reported that when asked about CCTD, Google would not propose any result that could be more or less applicable for translation purposes. Right, if you enter only these four letters, CCTD, no relevant results would show up in the first 10 URLs on the first Google search page. However, if we logically narrow down the request to find “finance report CCTD”, which was an obvious choice of such accompanying words (the annual report described the financial state, accounts payable, accounts receivable etc.), and the search was thus much more appropriate! In Google terminology, “key words” are essential to streamline your search. In the above-described case, including “finance” and “report” in the request was enough to get CCTD breakdown as the second hit on the first page provided by Google.

Google search for English-Russian translators

Well, even though Google context search is a powerful tool itself, there are several more features to help you. Making good use of them can ensure even better and stunning outcome. Let’s have a closer look at those most used by us.

1) «Quotation marks»

One of the translator arguments when trying to support their translation variant is referring to search results (i.e. number of hits) of a certain word combination. For example PUBLIC REPORT may be translated into Russian as Открытый отчет и Публичный отчет. Which option to accept? Just compare. Открытый отчет, which seems to be a meaningfully correct variant when entered without quotation marks gives 9 820 000 000 hits whereas «Публичный отчет comes up with only 4 560 000 hits. As a matter of fact, these figures do not reflect the actual state of affairs as in this case Google looks for individual words and comes up with total number of hits for “открытый”, “публичный” and “отчет”. All three of them are regarded separately. Look what happens when we use quotes. “Открытый отчет” comes up with 9 860 and “Публичный отчет” comes up with 1 440 000 hits, which is an absolutely different picture.

2) Minus sign (-)
This one is very much needed when you are getting too many different Alyonkas (see above) and need to differentiate by excluding those that you do not need. It is like saying “I do not want this and that” when placing a minus sign.

e.g. Mustang –cars, Аленка –шоколад (I do want to find Mustang but not Mustang cars, I want to find any information about Alyonka but I do not want any chocolate brand called Alyonka to be in the search results).

It is also useful when certain websites must be excluded from the search results. For example, a very popular Chinese site alibaba.com uses machine translation of the key words. Minus sign can easily be used to eradicate alibaba from what you need to see.

3) Site:

Use this one to search within specific sites. There is one very good Russian site with lots of car part catalogues in the Russian language. Unfortunately, the search feature on the site itself is crippled. I was so happy when this “site:” operator worked for me just fine. There are more dictionary sites and glossary sites on Internet that this operator could be used for. My favourites are a www.gramota.ru, www.dic.academic.ru, www.motorera.com and a few more. With this Google feature there is no need to go to a specific URL but rather use a Google search line. Be careful about syntax though. It is sensitive to a space between “site:” and the following URL. If you need to get results from just one particular site, check for NO space.

e.g. universal joint site:www.motorera.com

Moreover, if a company holds several domains (like Hilti for example maybe found at www.hilti.comwww.hilti.ru, www.hilti.us.com etc) the last three letters may be replaced with an asterisk (*) to search in all of the domains.

4) Define:

Use this if you need to get a definition of a certain word. Frankly speaking, very little difference is observed when using this operator with or without a colon. The results are just the same practically all the time.

5) Converter

This is not an operator. It is another feature of Google which may be used as a converter of most popular units of measurement and currencies as well. Watch the syntax as it is critical. pe.g. 123 psi in bar, 20 RUB in USD pThe above-mentioned Google features proved to be the most useful for our translation purposes among dozens of others available in Google. You can find a detailed description of them either here in Russian or here in English. You can even visit the official Google site.

Your experience with Google search for translation needs may have been even more successful and encouraging and are welcome to share your comments below!

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