Translation tool bonus: Pera-kun and Wakan

In the current issue of the Atlantic, I have a tech column about new translation tools by Google and Yahoo for coping with "hard" languages, notably Arabic and Chinese.

Here are two more free utilities I learned about too late to include in the column, but which I now use frequently for dealing with Chinese.

One is Perakun, an add on for the Firefox browser. (Available here.) It doesn't do instantaneous full-page translations, the way Google's translator does, but if anything it is a better language-learning tool, since you can hover over any Chinese character and it will pop up the pronunciation, the meaning, and its likely meaning in context of the characters just before or after it.

The other is Wakan, available here. It is a comprehensive translation/learning program, developed in the Czech Republic, that handles both Japanese and Chinese translations into a variety of Western languages. It is not integrated with a web browser as the other products are, but it has other strengths. Check them both out.