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Regularly irregular – verb conjugation

Yes, we know. Studying a language is already hard enough so why did people come up with irregular verbs? As if the conjugation of a verb and when to use which tense wouldn’t be hard enough already. Lucky you because we just made your life a little easier. We now include the conjugation for verbs in our dictionaries. Just click on the tenses next to the verb and you’ll get the entire conjugation table. Pretty cool, no?

This feature hasn’t been rolled out for all languages yet and we are still missing quite a few verbs in some languages. We decided to roll out this feature asap because it is so helpful. Rest assured that we are working hard to include as many verbs as possible in the future.

Have a great weekend!

Andreas

Improving our similar translation results

Why show similar translations?
Sometimes similar translations are even more valuable than a ‘perfect match’ translation. Let’s say you search for the translation of ‘egg’. You might be looking for something similar but don’t know exactly what the word is – e.g. terms as ‘egg yolk’, ‘fried egg’ or ‘egg-shell’. Or you might need a particular expression where two or more words are used in combination, such as ‘to smile at sb.’ or ‘Keep smiling!’. This function helps you with a broader search to give you as many potential answers as possible.

How does it work?
We have built up a vast database with millions of sentences from multiple sources. This database helps us find results for almost any search term.

Why are some translations marked as ‘might not be accurate’?
In order to ensure a decent number of results for nearly any search term you need millions and millions of sentences. This can only be done by automatically matching sentences and their translations across multiple sources. Unfortunately, the quality of the sources varies and our matching algorithm is not perfect yet ;-). So bear with us, we are constantly working on improving the quality of our search results. Translations marked with an exclamation mark have not been checked yet but you can help us to do so, just continue reading.

What can I do?
Lots! And it doesn’t even take a second! When you go over a sentence with a mouse, you will find a small symbol of a flag on the right side. If you think the translation is wrong or inappropriate, click on the flag. We will be automatically informed to review the sentence. The user feedback system helps us determine the accuracy of each translation and improve our matching algorithm. We really appreciate your help!

As always, do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Andreas

Improving our dictionaries step by step

When we started bab.la in 2007 we had the vision of creating the world’s largest dictionary. We know that this is quite a bold vision but our thinking was and still is: Aim high and see what happens. Looking back it was the right thing to do. We are now at 18 languages and 29 dictionaries which is quite impressive for a little more than 3 years work.

Continuous improvement with the help of our users
Since the launch we have worked on continuously improving our dictionaries. We believe in the wiki-approach, so we started off with letting users add their own words. Later we added a user editing function and a voting button for relevancy. Besides the wiki-approach we included additional functions such as the search filter, pronunciation (for some languages, more to come!), synonyms and so on. We are on our third ‘layout cycle’ and the usability experience has improved considerably. Many of these changes have been triggered by the feedback of our users.

Context sentences help choose the right translation

Some time ago we started to include context sentences for each translation. We do this by letting a computer program automatically match content from multilingual websites such as the European Union or the United Nations. The reason for this feature is easily explained by this example: With five translations on a searched word the normal user might be overwhelmed to choose which translation is the right one for his or her purpose. A sentence underneath every translation helps the user to understand the context in which the word is used and thereby to choose the right translation.

New beta feature to answer even more search queries
Unfortunately we don’t have translations for every search term entered by the users. Partially we just lack the content (we are working on it!), partially the search term is just nonsense (such as ‘asdfghjkl’) and partially the search terms are word flexions such as conjugated verbs. Unfortunately our system doesn’t allow us to search for these flexions and the corresponding translation in our dictionaries as there are many rules (and exceptions to the rules) to be implemented for each language. However, we can search our vast database with millions of sentence entries for the word flexion. This way you will get at least a partial answer to your search query by seeing entire sentences and their translations. As this is an automated function the results might not always be accurate. We chose to make this beta-feature available to everyone because we think despite its limitations it is too good to hide it. Rest assured that we are working on improving the feature as fast as we can. If you have any questions or suggestions in the mean time do not hesitate to contact us.

Andreas

Finally: Twitter dictionary interface sees the light of day

We just started our world-new, ground-breaking, forever-changing dictionary interface on Twitter. OK, enough supreme-word-usage. To put it into a nutshell: Now you can use Twitter to access our dictionaries – just send us a word and we’ll send the corresponding translation back. You can check it out at our Twitter dictionary page.
babla-twitter-dictionary

Again, it was one of our users who suggested this nifty little feature. Thanks to online marketeer and SEO specialist Andre we can now communicate with over 60 million unique visitors. Way to go!
So, what’s next? Maybe we should get a satellite and start communicating with aliens. I quite like the idea, unfortunately a satellite costs $200-600 million according to a quick Google search. I guess in the meantime we are going to take a look at other communication channels.

Update for clarification purposes: We are not the first ones to start a Twitter-based dictionary. To our knowledge there is at least one other service called woerterbuch.info with a similar offering.

Andreas

Meet the i – user editing now live

We have added a tiny little i next to each word. When you click on it you will see a drop-down menu with a few functions. The most important new function is “Edit this entry”. Now you can not only suggest new words but also edit all existing entries. Our dictionaries are not perfect yet 😉 and that’s why we need the power of our users, YOU!

Now you can:
– add grammar to an entry
– add a category if missing
– correct spelling mistakes
– include an explanation for the context

As with new entries, every edited entry needs 10 positive votes from other users in order to be verified. Until then, the old entry will be shown.

The drop-down menu looks like:
edit-dropdown-babla

The edit window opens underneath the entry:
edit-window-babla

A big thanks to all the users who have suggested this feature in the past. It took us some time but we think you’ll like it.

Andreas

Two Years, Twenty Two Dictionaries! दो साल, बाईस शब्दकोश

A few days after bab.la turned two years old, we bring you our twenty second dictionary! Our new Hindi-English dictionary is now online. We hope that our new dictionary will be of help to students and all language lovers. After all, every true language lover remains a student for life!

bab.la के दूसरे जन्मदिन के थोड़े दिन बाद हम आपको पेश करते हैं हमारा हिंदी-अंग्रेज़ी शब्दकोश! यह, हमारा सबसे नया शब्दकोश, हमारे लिये बहुत मायने रखता है। भारत की दुनिया में अहमियत ध्यान में रखते हुए, भारत की राष्ट्रभाषा का महत्व भी समझा जा सकता है। यह शब्दकोश बहुत लोगों के लिये काम आएगा यह हमारी आशा है, विद्यार्थीयों से लेकर सब भाषा प्रेमियों के लिये।

bab.la Hindi version

Radhika