Meme Miner: get translations of Wikipedia article titles

Wikipedia is a good source of terminology. Wikipedia articles often appear on top of Google search results about specific terms of concepts, and since many articles are translated, or at least written in different languages, it’s often sufficient to click on the corresponding target language in the Wikipedia Languages side bar to jump to the corresponding translated article.

But that’s a lot of clicks, especially because translations are not always available for all languages. If you are only interested in obtaining the translation of the title (which would be the keyword or concept you are looking for), wouldn’t it be nice to just type the source word and see its translation immediately?

There are several online services that offer this functionality. After trying out a few of them, I have settled for Meme Miner for its nice interface and speed. Here’s what a simple search looks like:

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So Meme Miner not only displays the term’s translation, but also offers the translated definition, as it appears in the Wikipedia article that uses the searched term as the title. Very useful.

It would be nice to see vendors of translation tools enter into an agreement with Wikipedia about integrating this type of search mechanism into their programs, for instance for pre-populating a glossary, complete with definitions, about a text that is about to be translated.

I also wonder if it would be possible to download bilingual Wikipedia article headings in a way that is easy to manipulate in order to generate bilingual term lists. Any comments about this possibility will be appreciated.

Published by Roberto Savelli

English to Italian translator, translation technology enthusiast. http://www.albatrossolutions.com

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40 Comments

  1. A good idea, but Wikipedia articles in different languages are written by different authors and are therefore not direct translations (sometimes the content can even be very different).

    1. Hi Gary, thank you for your comment. Yes, I know that Wikipedia articles are not translations of other languages but rather articles written in the native language. I was referring to the headings, or titles, and these are usually very consistent from language to language, so they may be used for glossary creation.

      The whole article, or at least its first block of text, could be used to add a description of every term in both languages. Wikipedia is freely downloadable, but the problem would be manipulating the vast amount of data and turn it into a simple glossary.

  2. Ciao Roberto!

    Thanks for covering MemeMiner. I truly appreciate the fact that you found my implementation to be useful, and even better if you think it’s the most useful out there!

    How have you been using it these days?

    Your glossary idea is indeed a very good one. I would guess that a crawler could be built, that would do the hard work and compose the body of translations you mentioned.

    1. Hi Fred, thank you for making your tool available. I’m sure several translators already use it and I hope that a few of them will get to know it through this blog.
      Crawling the Wikipedia site sounds like an interesting concept, but I was wondering if using the offline version of Wikipedia might expedite and simplify things a bit.

  3. Great post and useful tool, will use it in work. Localization engineer from my team once build a script that crawled translations of the geographical names in Wikipedia articles – one more way to implement the idea.

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Marta. Small but well-designed and specific tools like Meme Miner are very interesting for translators and I’m glad to hear that you too have found it useful.

  4. Hey, thanks for the kudos. I am thinking about rolling out a version where the user could upload a comma-separated values (csv) file, and get a text file with the translations. This was a request from a fellow translator of yours.

    How useful do you think this feature would be?

  5. Hi Fred, the CSV file functionality sounds promising. I wonder if this could create problems, since it would probably mean sending multiple requests to Wikipedia.

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  7. Celina, realize that there are suitaitons where a professional translation is impractical — and a rough translation will do OK. For example, imagine you run an online discussion forum where THOUSANDS of new message are posted by users each day. Can you imagine the daunting task, and cost, of hiring someone — or a team of people — to translate each of those new messages — into dozens of languages nonetheless ? It’s mind-boggling, really. And as that webmaster, you may realize that there are people all around the world who don’t speak/read any English, but would find the content on your forums very useful. But, alas, they don’t read English but would be quite happy to read a broken automated translation, if it was available, since it would be better than nothing. And maybe they don’t know about any of the automated translation tools that they could install into their browser — but if you offered the automated Google Translation gadget embedded on your website, they could opt to use it and read these messages posted by their fellow users, added to your forum every minute of every day. (Mind you, most of the message posted would be in quick, vernacular English — certainly not well crafted, well thought out language with long-term intent that would be better served by professional translation.)I have no doubt that automated translation technology will NEVER replace good ol’ human translations, but I think Google’s offering a great service by making it easy for webmasters to offer quick n’ dirty translations, which can help visitors in many suitaitons, as I illustrated above.

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