Translation plugins for Firefox

Last week at the Ruby meeting, I mentioned to someone that looking up Ruby info online could sometimes be tricky if you don’t speak Japanese, and he said that he used to use a plugin for IE to help with this. So today I poked around on the Firefox site and found a couple of things that seem to work.

The most generally useful one is gTranslate. It uses Google’s translation service to look up the meaning of phrases you highlight. Thus I was able to find out that 大学生活板 means “university life board” (from the title of a YouTube video).

The other one I installed is probably most helpful to people who’re studying Japanese. Rikaichan does a character-by-character dictionary lookup, including alternate definitions. For me this is interesting, but not immediately useful, since I don’t know enough to guess which translation is most likely in a given case.

It’s not a perfect solution. A lot of the phrases I’ve tried so far seem cryptic even when translated. I suspect that if I spent even a little time learning something about Japanese sentence structure, I’d be able to guess what the translation should be from the output, though. And it’s better than staring blankly at the characters on the screen.

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