German can be a difficult language – or at least that’s what Germans reassure me when I’m struggling along. I always feel like a complete dummy jabbering on with my terrible German, and most people switch to serviceable English if they notice me struggling too much. I’ve been able to get to the point where I can run errands, make appointments, and make some caveman-like small talk, but I don’t do that without help. I’d be completely lost without some of my technological helpers.
Google Translate has a reputation for being terrible, which it can be, but if you have some basic knowledge of the languages you’re translating, it can help you fill the gaps. If I’m having trouble understanding the gist of something, popping it in to Google Translate can help me figure out what I’m missing. I would not suggest using it to do translations for you unless you are able to fiddle around with it and make revisions – at least for anything serious. It can lead to some amusing small-talk, however. And the Live Translate feature on the mobile app is entertaining to say the least.
Dict.cc is the basic dictionary app I use on my phone. You can download language packs to access offline, which makes it very useful. It will only help you with single words and common short phrases, but it’s proven to be fairly accurate when I’m looking for new words. It also shows the gender of the German nouns, which is magical. I’m constantly mixing up der/die/das/den/dem and so on. I’m told that I’ll eventually remember them all, but I doubt that.
I use the Duden website when I really want to impress somebody. Duden gives you so much information, that it can almost be overwhelming if you just need to translate something quickly, but if you want to make sure your verb conjugations are perfect, it is the place to go. I always have issues with second person plural, but it helps me out. It’s hard to make Google Translate understand which version of “you” that you want, but Duden gives all of your options for you. There is a German to English option when you look up entries, but they are as streamlined as Dict.cc, and if you want a quick translation, Dict.cc will get you there faster. However, the German entries are a goldmine, especially for those irregular verbs.
There are other resources available on the website, but I haven’t played around with them a bit. If anyone uses any of their other services, please let me know if it’s something I need to check out!
Image used in header by stokpic.