Technical term translation

For your summer translation fun, here’s a summary of comments from a recent post on how to translate technical terms from English to Mandarin.

To make it simpler, let’s assume “ABCD” is the English* term you want to translate. The suggestions are:

  1. Baidu search for ABCD
  2. Iciba search for ABCD
  3. Web search for ABCD along with a Chinese term that is used within the same general area of knowledge as ABCD (example)
  4. Web search for ABCD plus 翻译
  5. Web search for ABCD plus 英文怎么说
  6. Use a hack of the Chinese Wikipedia by going to (example)
  7. Use the Modern Chinese Scientific Terminologies site (thanks, Andre, in comments below)
  8. Google’s translation tool (thanks, Transliterationisms in comments)
  9. Google’s dictionary with bilingual features. Instructions: “Select a language pair at the top, then type in the word in either language, it auto-detects and responds appropriately.” (thanks again to Transliterationisms)

Thanks for all the useful tips. Did I miss anything?

Also, for the record, this post is now archived in Sinoglot’s brand new Language Tools, Tips, Resources page.


*Anyone try these with a language other than English?

11 responses to “Technical term translation”

  1. Syz says:

    Thanks, Andre, I added it to the list.

  2. Duncan says:

    Is the general consensus that Baidu is better than Google for this sort of thing? I’ve always thought Google more reliable, though not the best in every situation.

  3. Brendan says:

    I also find Google more reliable than Baidu, though Baidu Zhidao searches can be great for finding explanations of terms in Chinese.

    It’s been a long time since I last used iCiba – several years – but the last time I used it, nCiku was generally slightly better.

    My work is entirely Chinese-English, but the same tactics should apply for English-Chinese.

  4. google dictionary/translate

  5. Syz says:

    @Duncan&Brendan: so “reliable” means “gives usable search results”?
    @transliterationisms: thanks. I added that above. Incidentally, when I was playing around with some of these search terms on google, it sometimes gave me as a featured result automatically

  6. Google dictionary is not the same as Google translate.

    Depending on the word and language (or language pair) you select, you get a variety of different things (examples, definitions, web definitions, google translate, etc). I don’t find the google translate feature useful outside of the context of the other info provided (unless I know the term and just can’t remember it, or just want to check). If all you get from the dict/translate feature is a word, I feel you have to do some work to find its usage and relevance on the greater internet. Google dict does some of that legwork for you. It’s closer to the context Nciuku or Iciba provides sometimes, but better.

  7. Syz says:

    @Translit: I’m probably being dense, but then how does Dictionary help with finding a term in Chinese, or vice versa? It looks to me like it’s unilingual

  8. It’s unilingual and bilingual. Select a language pair at the top, then type in the word in either language, it auto-detects and responds appropriately.

  9. Syz says:

    @Translit: right, so I was being dense, but thanks — very cool features and now I see what you mean about context. Very cool. I’ve added it to the list more appropriately now.

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