Google soft-launches translated search

For all the easy mockery that automatic translation services can inspire, they are nonetheless much better than nothing. However, they are generally a fairly unidirectional affair - you bung in the URL or paste the text, and out comes the translated version.

For all the easy mockery that automatic translation services can inspire, they are nonetheless much better than nothing. However, they are generally a fairly unidirectional affair - you bung in the URL or paste the text, and out comes the translated version.

But what if you want to search another language's part of the web, despite being hamstrung by not knowing what keyword you're looking to use? Easy enough to solve in part - translate the keyword - but that still leaves you with a bunch of results you can't understand. However, Google has come up with something rather clever. And very simple.

Visit this page, put in your keyword in English (or whatever language you choose) and select the language you want to search in. It'll translate your keyword into that language, find the results in that language and send you back the results, with links to translated pages, in your language. I don't think I've seen this done before.

Rather than a unidirectional translator, it's more like having a 2-way interpreter. Say you're going off on holiday somewhere where you don't speak the language. You want to look for a hotel, but if you search in, say, English, you'll be missing local websites that might alert you to stuff the big international hotel sites might miss.

Although it's dead simple to do, I reckon the very idea of 2-way translated search may be viewed down the line as a notable event in the web's development. Not sure Google realises it, though - I only found out about it in the middle of this blog post about 10 new languages getting added to Google Translate...