Learn a new language and lend your awesome new translating skills to the world at large, by translating the web into your target language.”

OR THAT’S WHAT THEY CLAIM.

A new project called Duolingo says it will help you learn a language while you translate the web. In their two-minute video, they explain the process:

  1. You take a test in your target language.
  2. They feed you sentences at your level.
  3. You translate said sentences.
  4. You thereby enable “a wealth of language-shackled information to be liberated for all of humanity.”

The ultimate goal of Duolingo is to translate the web, one page at a time. Their claim is that if one million people participated, it would take only 80 hours (presumably per person) to translate all of English Wikipedia into Spanish.

Screenshot

And according to them, the benefit to you as a “translator” is that the process will help you memorize new words.

You know what kind of language learner you are, and whether this will work for you. You may have to hear a word pronounced, or be exposed to it several times before it sticks. Everyone is different, but presumably all of us are capable of proficiency in another language.

So far I’ve been unable to get a crack at it, since it’s still in beta testing. I’m also an avowed language and translation snob and believe people should translate into their mother tongue, not into their second (or twenty-seventh) language.

But I have to admit that even a somewhat addled human translation of a webpage has got to be better than some of what I see that’s machine translated. And while doing my own Spanish to English translations for work, I often rely on equally group-sourced Linguee, which allows you to see how people have translated words into another language, within the context of specific sentences.

So my opinion: group source translation, yes. But buyer (or beta-tester) beware.