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This chapter exists in a more current and better readable version (two-column set) on a separate website:


Chapter 2
Freely accessible Language Resources: Dictionaries, Machine Translation, Language Courses

Complete language learning books are rarely found on the Internet. However, there are older copyright-free English courses at the Internet Archive.

The school television classic „Englisch für Anfänger“ (DE → EN), whose 51 episodes can be found completely on Youtube, occupies an absolutely exceptional position. A masterpiece of didactics, also suited for non-German speakers (moderation is partly in English).

Classical dictionaries and network dictionaries with sound files or with phonetic spelling for pronunciation form a central learning basis. Free dictionary programs and browser extensions (e.g for Be­o­lin­gus and QuickDic) as well as countless freely downloadable dictionaries in the form of text or HTML lists are available for offline operation. Their usage is comfortable and effective, even without a dictionary search mask: Hold the respective dictionary open in the tab of a web page reader, press the key combination Ctrl + F and enter the word, which automatically jumps to the corresponding translation if the word to be translated is included.

Make use of other free learning materials on the Internet, look for grammar rules, text documents (PDF, HTML), pronunciation aids, sound files, complete scanned books with sound files (audio books or books read in [Youtube]videos), complete video courses, specialized dictionaries and much more. Matching keyword combinations lead to high-quality materials.

If you do not have a broadband Internet connection, you can also download and save larger files (video films, sound files, etc.) from an Internet café (USB stick, DVD, CD-ROM) and then copy them to your local computer, or you can ask a friend to download the relevant materials for you and save them on a USB stick.

The present list of language-relevant web pages is an exemplary compilation, it makes no claim to completeness and is deliberately kept manageable.

Table of Contents Chapter 2

2.1 Online Dictionaries, multilingual, with Sound Files and multi-language User Interfaces
For Language Studies and Translation Projects
Bildquelle: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxygen480-apps-kthesaurus.svg
     Originalbildquelle: http://websvn.kde.org/trunk/kdesupport/oxygen-icons/scalable/apps/kthesaurus.svgz?view=log,
     Lizenz: http://websvn.kde.org/trunk/kdesupport/oxygen-icons/COPYING?view=markup

Make intensive use of online dictionaries. In word translation results lists, vocabulary and idioms are usually presented in different frames of reference (contexts). By pressing the accompanying speaker symbol, you memorize the native speaker sound, including the correct emphasis. Some web pages also display the pronunciation in written form, in so-called IPA notation. This allows you to memorize new words twice, acoustically and visually.

The online dictionaries examined have a high level of performance and a wide range of functions. The possibilities and selection menus are therefore only partially described. Almost all projects offer a participation: Submission of word suggestions, sound file recording, quality control and more. Begin by going through all the features, categories and subpages to find the areas that are relevant to you and get the most out of the content on offer. Get overviews!:

Read the “Alpha Dictionary Language Directory”. Study the reference lists of Lexilogos. There, numerous online dictionaries are listed for more than 108 languages, which can also be addressed directly via a search mask. In addition, this site offers extensive reference collections to freely downloadable dictionaries, rulebooks and other language learning materials.

Read the online dictionary section of Omniglot, one of the most comprehensive and substantial language sites on the Internet.

Similarsites.com also offers numerous pre-sorted cream-de-la-cream websites on the subject of language: If you enter the address of a website, all known related websites of the search index will be compiled and presented in a list (WP article “Website correlation”); 18 or 19 languages are available for the menu navigation. Similarsites.de and Similarsitesearch.com prepare the presented search results differently. Here are three example search queries for three language-relevant pages: dict.cc, Linguee.com and Reverso.net.

Further dictionaries can also be found in “Wi­ki­pe­dia:​Nach­schla­ge­wer­ke im In­ter­net/Wör­ter­bü­cher” (Wiki­pe­dia:Reference Works in the Internet/Dictionaries), in “Wi­ki­pe­dia:​Nach­schla­ge­wer­ke im In­ter­net/Kosten­lo­se Über­set­zungs­dien­ste“ (Wikipedia:Reference Works in the Internet/free Trans­la­tion services) as well as in the WP-​overviews “Ca­te­go­ry:​On­line dic­tio­na­ries” and “Ka­te­go­rie:​On­line­wör­ter­buch”.

Short definitions of various dictionary-relevant terms, definition extracts are taken from the linked WP-sources: “[...] A synonym is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase in the same language. [...], “[...] Complementary antonyms are word pairs whose mean­ings are opposite [...]”.

Etymology [...] is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. [...] By extension, the term ‘the etymology (of a word)’ means the origin of the particular word. [...]”

A Definition for “thesaurus” (plural: thesauri): “[...] In general usage, a thesaurus is a ref­er­ence work that lists words grouped together according to similarity of meaning (containing synonyms and sometimes antonyms), in contrast to a dictionary, which provides definitions for words, and generally lists them in alphabetical order. The main purpose of such reference works is to help the user ‘to find the word, or words, by which [an] idea may be most fitly and aptly expressed’ – to quote Peter Mark Roget, architect of the best known thesaurus in the English language. [...]” Word definitions at Wik­ti­o­nary and at Merriam-Webster.

The overview article “Free Typesetting Software for the Professional Document Preparation” also discusses language-specific aspects of text input.

Beolingus  •  Odge.de  •  Linguatools  •  Linguee and DeepL  •  PONS  •  Reverso  •  LEO  •  dict.cc  •  Langenscheidt  •  Woxikon  •  phrasen.com  •  Weitere

2.1.1 Beolingus
Image source and copyright: BEOLINGUS

BEOLINGUS offers comprehensive dictionaries of the TU-​Chem­nitz, with phonetic transcription and sound files created by humans. The languages offered include: German ↔ Eng­lish, German ↔ Spanish, German ↔ Portuguese.

The search acuity can be encircled by a filter and the phonetic transcription display can be switched on and off. All criteria can be defined centrally over the preferences and usage tips category, even solid expressions can be displayed (“Show also vulgar and slang words”).

The „Help“-category contains detailed operating instructions, in the Word lists for special subjects you will find dictionaries on numerous areas of life and work. In the Conversions of Units-site, you can convert units of measurement of the Anglosphere into metric units. Further sections contain grammar aids.

BEOLINGUS has an exceptional position among the dictionaries with regard to the extensive range of possible uses; more detailed information is available in the FAQ section; browser extensions as well as dictionaries for offline operation are also available free of charge. Excerpt from the WP article „Beolingus“ "Beolingus" (as of December, 2016), translated:

“[...] Beolingus offers translations of more than 706,000 (German-English), 120,000 (German-Spanish) and 44,000 (German-Portuguese) terms (as of December 2016)[...] In addition to word translations, explanations, synonyms, antonyms, sayings, aphorisms and quotations can also be found there. It is one of the three largest German-English dictionaries along with dict.cc and LEO. German and American pronunciation by native speakers can be listened to. It also offers translations into Spanish and Portuguese.[...]

BEOLINGUS: Offered Menu Languages (User Interface)
German English Spanish

2.1.2 Odge.info
Image source and copyright: Odge.info

Odge.info, the „online dictionary German-English“, presents itself with a clas­sic, simple and appealing user interface that is available in En­glish and in German. Vocabulary extensions can be suggested in the Enter new word section. The license basis is GPL-based, see “License-information” for more details.

Odge.info draws on a vocabulary that has grown during decades, and has been con­tin­u­ous­ly expanded since 2004. Sample translation queries: instantly, refined. Some result lists are several pages long, so it's a good idea to scroll all the way down.

2.1.3 linguatools
Image source and copyright: www.linguatools.de

Linguatools.de offers powerful context dictionaries, with auto-completion suggestions as you type. So far the user interface is only available in German. You don't have to understand German to use it, except for the following headings: “Über­set­zun­gen” = translations; “Ver­wen­dungs­bei­spie­le” = examples of use; “Com­pu­ter­ge­ne­rier­te Über­set­zungs­vor­schlä­ge” = com­put­er generated translation suggestions.

Extract of the self description (May 18, 2017): „Context Dictionary[:] The Context Dictionary translates between German and ten European languages. It provides millions of bilingual example sentences for each language pair that show you how words and phrases are actually used in real world contexts.“ The dictionaries can also be accessed at linguatools.com. Example translation query: in my opin­ion, background knowledge.

The Lin­gu­a­tools context dictionary, on the Internet since 2009 (German article on the open­ing), is a mature language system that provides excellent services. Detailed information can be found in the section “Über das Kon­text-​Wör­ter­buch”. Recommendations for refined searches are described in the blog entry “Mit Fil­tern Tref­fer ge­zielt ein­schrän­ken”. Further In­for­ma­tion: “Neu­es Design und neue Da­ten für das Kon­text-​Wör­ter­buch Deutsch-​Eng­lisch”, “Com­pu­ter­ge­ne­rier­te Über­set­zungs­vor­schlä­ge Deutsch-​Eng­lisch”, “Au­to­ma­ti­sche Wör­ter­buch­er­wei­te­rung”.

The founders of Lin­gu­a­tools, Pe­ter Kolb and Pet­ra Pro­chaz­kova come from the field of com­pu­ta­tio­nal linguistics (WP-article “Computational linguistics”). Articles in German: “Über uns” (research focus and staff description) • lin­gu­a­tools-​Blog • linguatools.com • Englisch website, lin­gu­a­tools.org • Pet­ra Pro­chaz­kova's blog on the Czech language, Tschechisch-Blog.

Linguatools: Offered Language Dircections
German ↔ English German ↔ French German ↔ Spanish
German ↔ Schwedish German ↔ Dutch German ↔ Portuguese
German ↔ Greek German ↔ Italian German ↔ Czech
German ↔ Polish

2.1.4 Linguee and the DeepL-Translator

Linguee consists of a classic dictionary and a context-based translation system based on human translations. It shows you how others have translated your text (word, phrase or fragment and complete sentences) in different contexts. The basis is a continuously updated database of high-quality, i.e. man-made translations, including bilingual websites from the Internet. Thus, numerous translation situations from everyday life are automatically taken into account in translation requests. Example query (EN ↔ DE): continous im­prove­ment; this results in a primarily suggested translation compared to “less common” resp. less frequent phrases, as well as in an “Examples” and a “See also” column followed by “Ex­ter­nal sources [...]” listing numerous translations in context. Users have the possibility to par­tic­i­pate, whereby a continuous improvement of the data stock takes place.

Bildschirmfoto: Ausschnitt der Nutzerschnittstelle von Linguee.com,
     25. September 2016

The sound recordings of the dictionary are recorded by native speakers and are available in American English as well as British English for words with very different expressions. Example translation requests for words whose pronunciation in General American is clearly different from British English: ask, answer, adver­tisement.

Further information can be found in Linguee's own description as well as in the WP-​Artikel “Linguee”. Linguee has been publicly available since 2009 and provides excellent services. Comparable context-based dictionaries: Linguatools, Reverso Context.

Linguee: Offered Menu Languages (User Interface)
(language directions)
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Linguee's vast database forms the basis of what is currently the most powerful computer translation system. Section 2.2 contains instructions on how to use DeepL.

2.1.5 PONS

PONS, “PONS - The free dictionary for foreign languages, German spelling and full-text trans­la­tions”, offers dictionaries for more than a dozen languages, with phonetic transcription and com­put­er-generated sound files,- as well as a translation system.

The pronunciation (loudspeaker symbol) and the corresponding phonetic transcription for Brit­ish Eng­lish and American Eng­lish are listed in parallel in PONS. Example words: ask, an­swer. When the mouse pointer is moved over the phonetic transcription, example words in which the respective sound occurs are displayed for each individual IPA character. Call up already known words and memorize their written sound pattern, thus you will quickly become familiar with the phonetic symbols.

Bildschirmfoto: Ausschnitt der Nutzerschnittstelle von Pons.com,
     30. September 2016
Screenshot: Section of the user interface of Pons.com,  September 30, 2016.

Phonetic characters are illustrated with examples as you drive over them (here the German unser interface)

Important for the preparation of English texts: The word gaps (hyphenation gaps) are displayed. This is very advantageous, as the syllabification of the English languages is not carried out according to the same simple rules as in German. Note, however, that hyphenation patterns vary within the Anglosphere. [1] [2] [3] [4].

Within the header line of the word entry in question is a small information-​i on the right. Press it to display fur­ther “options”, including PONS' syno­nyms; if you select “Links to further information”, a menu of 16 dic­tion­aries or language-rele­vant pages will appears. Click on the corresponding entry to forward your word request directly to the corresponding Online dictionary.

Sample sentences are available for the individual words, both editorially checked and unchecked from the Internet. Note the tabs and pop-up menus, and go right down to the bottom of the page to get an overview. Information about the publisher can be found the German WP-​ar­ti­cle “Pons-​Ver­lag”.

PONS-Verlag can look back on decades of history; PONS-Online has existed since 2001.

[1] “Canadian, British and American Spelling [,] General Rules for Regional Differences

[2] “American and British English spelling differences

[3] WP-article “Syllabification

[4] WP-article “Phonetics

PONS: Offered Menu Languages (User Interface)
German English French Russian Spanish Portuguese
Italian Slovak Greek Turkish Polish Chinese

PONS-Online-Dictionary: English ↔ Other Language
(there are numerous further Language Directions)
English ↔ German English ↔ French English ↔ Russian
English ↔ Italian English ↔ Chinese English ↔ Portuguese
English ↔ Spanish English ↔ Slovenian English ↔ Arabic
English ↔ Polish

2.1.6 Reverso
Reverso offers powerful dictionaries, various grammar aids and a context-based word or phrase translation system comparable to Linguee, Reverso Context. The dictionaries cover a total of 14 languages. Users can participate, which has a positive effect on quality control.

Reverso offers powerfull dictionaries Reverso offers powerful dictionaries, various grammar aids and a context-based word or phrase translation system comparable to Linguee, Reverso ContextReverso Context. The dictionaries cover a total of 14 languages. Users can participate, which has a positive effect on quality control.

More detailed information can be found in Reverso's own descriptions, e.g. in in “About the contextual dictionary” (also contains operating instructions), in “What is Re­ver­so all about?” and in the WP-​article “Re­ver­so (logiciel)”.

Already during the input the auto-completion lists known words and/or word combinations and idioms as input suggestions. The results are presented in groups. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator
Bildschirmfoto: Ausschnitt der Nutzerschnittstelle von Reverso.net,
     25. September 2016

The menu of Re­ver­so Con­text, the pow­er­ful context based dictionary, is available in 12 lan­guages: In German, English, French, Spanish, Por­tu­guese, Russian, Dutch, Italian, Polish, Arabic and He­brew. Example translation requests for the direction Ger­man ↔ English: “in my opinion”, “under the cir­cum­stances”. Already during the input the auto-completion lists known words and/or word combinations and idioms as input suggestions. The results are presented in groups. If you move to the individual areas highlighted in light blue, an information window will display the total number of the respective example translations, which will then be listed by pressing.

Bildschirmfoto: Ausschnitt der Nutzerschnittstelle von Reverso.net,
     25. September 2016

Directly below, in a "German ↔ English" comparison, a subset of the results is displayed. If you move the mouse pointer into the respective line, it will be highlighted in colour and symbols for various functions will appear, including the loudspeaker symbol: Press to play the pronunciation (computer generated pronunciation). Move to the respective symbol to display the function behind it.

There is a book symbol to the right of the search entry. By clicking on it, the query is forwarded to the classic Reverso dictionary. This comprises 14 languages, the menu navigation is available in a total of 6 languages: German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

Re­ver­so Conjugation conjugates verbs of German, English, French, Spanish, and Heb­rew. The menu is available in German, English, French, Spanish, and in Italian.

The Reverso spell checker is available for English and French, with settings for American English and British English. Available menu languages are: English, French and Spanish.

The Re­ver­so Online spellchecker is available for English and French, whereby settings can be made for American English and British English. Available menu languages are: Eng­lisch, French and Spanish.

Reverso Grammatik offers grammar checks for English and French. The menu is available in English and French.

Re­ver­so Grammar offers grammar checks for English and French. The menu is available in English and French.

Re­ver­so Translation provides machine translation services:

Reverso Translation: Offered Menu Languages (User Interface)
German English French Spanish Portuguese
Russian Italian Czech Japanese Romanian

Reverso Translate: Translation Directions
English ↔ German German ↔ English French ↔ German German ↔ French
German ↔ Spanish Spanish ↔ German Russian ↔ German German ↔ Russian
Portuguese ↔ German German ↔ Portuguese English ↔ Spanish Spanish ↔ English
English ↔ Russian Russian ↔ English English ↔ Portuguese Portuguese ↔ English
English ↔ Hebrew Hebrew ↔ English

2.1.7 LEO
Bildschirmfoto: Ausschnitt der Nutzerschnittstelle von Leo.org,
     01. Oktober 2016

LEO is one of the oldest online dictionaries in the German-speaking world. The accompanying sound files were and are recorded by native speakers. You can use the information-i to forward your request to other dictionaries, including the “On­line Ety­mo­lo­gy Dic­ti­o­na­ry”, which lists information on the origin of words. Examples: Translation request for “answer”, results at etymonline.com, dictionary entry at Merriam-Webster.com. Pay attention to the sometimes very small speaker symbol of other dictionaries.

LEO offers various short guides to the individual website functions, including the online dictionary func­tion (a total of 11 pages). LEO also offers also an extensive collection of link list to other lan­guage-relevant web pages: “Useful links”. Information on the history of the LEO-​project can be found in the WP-​article “LEO (website)”; the origins of LEO go back to the early 1990s. Sample translation request: interested.

LEO: Offered Menu Languages (User I