For a translator that will get you through the basics of several European languages without putting a giant hole in your pocket, the Franklin TWE-118 is a great choice. The handheld device translates to and from English, French, Spanish, German and Italian with more than 210,000 translations available. The device measures 4.25 x 2.75 x .62 and resembles a calculator, with a letter keyboard to type in words and phrases. There’s a search function that categorizes phrases into useful groups such as dining, hotels, directions, business and more. There’s also a built-in currency converter, spell checker, databank for names and phone numbers and calculator, plus a world clock and games.
For an alternative to carrying several dictionaries in various languages, the Brookstone Passport is an excellent choice and provides more than 8,000 useful phrases. The device cross translates 12 international languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Dutch, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Swedish. Measuring 5.4 x 4.8 x 4 inches, the portable translator has eight conversational categories to choose from and it “speaks” aloud and displays the phrase on the screen. Another handy feature is that it allows you to save up to 50 favorite phrases. It also comes with a built-in personal phone book to help stay organized and an auto-shut off button with password access.
Human translation: Human translation is performed by people who are fluent in the language pair being translated. The whole process, from translation to proofreading, is performed by people. This type of translation is generally more accurate than machine translation since the humans who translate will account for nuances and cultural context. Because of this, though, it takes longer than machine translation.
But I understand that not everyone is willing to wing it like that. Some topics aren’t as easily explained with hand gestures (how do you mime something like “hotel” or "I'm allergic to peanuts."). While I’m a strong proponent of getting a local SIM when you travel, and thereby gaining access to Google Translate wherever you are, that too is not always possible.
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