• Alysa Salzberg

Fun translation tool puts European languages on the map (literally)

One thing the internet has made really easy is finding out how to say a word in any language. The European Word Translator takes this to another level: type a word into its search function and you'll see how to say it in just about every European language, all at once.


Created by James Trimble, the European Word Translator produces a map of Europe with the searched-for word translated into the principal language spoken in each country!


The tool is nifty and fun, and can even reveal some surprising things. For instance, after recently seeing a similar map that shows how to say “Merry Christmas” in each European country, I realized how many different ways there are to say “Christmas” in Europe and went down an etymology wormhole.


Fun and interesting as it is, Trimble’s translation tool isn’t perfect. For one thing, some European countries have multiple official languages (bilingual Belgium isn’t even included in the search, although its two main languages, French and Dutch, do show up on in the countries on either side). For another, the words are shown in a country’s particular alphabet, so you still may not know how people in Russia would say “rutabaga”.


Another issue is that you can’t search for a word in any language: it has to be in English.

And of course, no machine translation is guaranteed to be error-free, so the translator probably isn’t something you should rely on as your only option for translation if you’re traveling or discussing something where a misunderstanding could have serious consequences.


Still, the European Word Translator l is a cool concept, which seems to have surprised Trimble himself. In the instructions on the site, he writes that it was started as a side project and that he was planning to shut it down, but has kept it going due to public demand.


Read on to learn more about the European Word Translator, and try it yourself here.



Translations of the word “language” , via the European Word Translator




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