A sentence is typed in many different languages, colours and two font sizes.

How to translate anything to English

=== by Bob Sutherland ===

This a lesson on how to use the Internet to translate a foreign language to English.

Let us begin with a short story to capture your attention and create a receptive mood for learning.

The Learn to Crochet Book

Once upon a time there was a cute teenager who skipped some of her high school classes. Therefore while the other students were busy learning how to read, write and do arithmetic in about twenty different languages she missed some of those lessons.

Over the ensuing decades her knowledge deficiencies that resulted from skipping classes did not have a big impact on her life. She played sports. She learned how to drive a car. She found herself a boyfriend. She got married. She had a baby - or maybe a few babies. She became a housewife. She did some community volunteer work. She entered the workforce. She twiddled away at a career. Overall she managed to accomplished all the things that ladies do.

Eventually she decided that it was time to retire. Her plan was to buy herself a rocking chair and learn how to crochet. She intended to watch television or borrow some movies from the library. She told everyone that she would be spending her retirement years reading a big stack of books while enjoying a peaceful life.

Being a hip, modern grandmother she surfed the Internet to purchase a crochet instruction book. The online advertising promoted the book as having plenty of pictures, patterns and instructions for creating some very beautiful shawls, mittens, toques, tablecloths, blankets and doilies.

Everything seemed to be perfect as she gathered up her crocheting materials one day. She sat down in her rocking chair and opened the crochet book. On the first random page that she looked at the instructions were in Japanese, or maybe Korean, or maybe Chinese. She did not know as she had skipped her high school classes in all of those languages. But that was okay she thought to herself. She just needed to search through the book to find the English section.

She skimmed back and forth as she searched the book from cover to cover. There was no English section! The whole book was written in some alphabet or glyph character symbols that she did not know! She looked at the pictures and diagrams and realized that she could not learn how to crochet simply by looking at pictures and diagrams. She needed to be able to read and understand the written instructions! What was she going to do?

Well like any great comic book story it is time for a super hero to come to the rescue. Today's super hero is a retired high school teacher.

As he sat at his desk looking at this silly girl he frowned and shook his head. Why did she think that she could skip her high school classes so long ago and get away with it? Sooner or later her educational deficiencies from missing those lessons was bound to catch up to her.

As he quietly listened to her describing her problem he gradually began to mellow. A twinkle returned to his eyes and a smile crossed his lips. In his kind and patient way he then taught this rocking chair granny the following lesson so that she could translate her crochet instruction book from Japanese to English.

Today's lesson: How to translate a book to English

Your first task when faced with the situation described in the above story is to make digital photographs of the pages of the book containing the foreign text that you want to translate. To achieve the best translation results you will need very clear pictures. You can use the scanner on top of a computer's printer, a digital camera, or the camera of a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet to capture the images.

The rest of this lesson involves using a computer to visit websites on the Internet. I have included screenshots of my computer screen and explanatory notes as I go through the steps. It is really quite easy once you have done a few pages.

Welcome screen of the English version of the Yandex Translate website.

On the Internet go to https://translate.yandex.com/ . Take your time reading and exploring the Yandex Translate webpage. Find and read the pop-up tool tips on some of the icons. Find the pop-up menus where you can choose the languages that you want to translate from and to. Do not worry if you do not know which language the original source material is written in as the programming code of the website will automatically try to recognize the language for you.

A photo with Japanese and English text has been dragged and dropped onto the Yandex Translate webpage.

Drag and drop one of the scanned images or photos you created containing the text you want to translate onto the Yandex Translate webpage. Be prepared to wait a few seconds as your photo or image is uploaded to the Yandex website and their software begins to analyze it. You may see some form of In Progress indicator telling you to wait temporarily.

In the centre of the screen directly above the photo use the pop-up menu to select the languages you are translating from and to. When the computer and you are ready mouse click on the command Open in Yandex.Translate just above the top right corner of the photo.

The Yandex Translate webpage has found and translated the Japanese text in the photo.

In the small text samples that I tested the Yandex Translate webpage was very quick at translating from Japanese to English and from French to English.

In the box on the left on the Yandex Translate webpage appears the Japanese glyph characters that the computer was able to find and recognize in the photo. In the box on the right appears the English translation. Notice that some Japanese glyph characters in the photo at the far right end of the text line above the English word Lace were not found and translated. The photographer's shadow and the poor angle of the camera relative to the page interfered with the translation.

Be careful that distractions such as shadows, camera flash glare, poor camera angle and the curvature of a page near the book's binding do not interrupt the translation process. Check diligently that the Yandex Translate computers have found and correctly displayed ALL of the foreign language characters in the scanned image or photograph that you want to be translated.

Yandex is a Russian company. It is one of the major search engines on the Internet with a primary focus on serving the needs of the countries and languages of the former Soviet Union. The company is involved in many different business ventures with offices located around the world.

While we have just completed our task of translating Japanese text contained in a photo to English the Yandex programmers realized that we might want a second opinion. Therefore if you look at the bottom of the box on the right side of the screen containing the translated to English text you will see the command Translate in Google Bing. Mouse click on the word Google.

The Google Translate website as it translates the Japanese text to English.

The Yandex Translate webpage has just sent the Japanese text it extracted from the photo to the Google Translate website. Google then translated the text to English. Hopefully most of the time the English translation provided by Google will be the same or very similar to the English translation provided by Yandex.

Note that at the time I am creating this webpage (February 2021) the Google Translate website cannot accept a photo or image as its input source. Therefore you must use the Yandex Translate service or some other means to convert the writing in the photo to typed Japanese text before you can send it to Google Translate.

On the Yandex Translate webpage the command at the bottom of the box on the right containing the translated to English text said Translate in Google Bing. What happens if you mouse click on the word Bing?

Yandex (Russia), Google and Bing are all major search engines on the Internet. What about Yahoo and Baidu (China) since they are also major search engines? Do all five of the major search engines have a language translation service? How do they compare?

Well if I tell you anything more in this lesson you will probably fall asleep from boredom so I have to leave you with some suspense. Your homework assignment is to find out what happens when you mouse click on Bing. Then get yourself busy exploring the language translation capabilities and services of all five of the major search engine companies. Good luck and have fun.