23 January 2009

I heart google (or, why the internet is awesome)

I was hired to translate some poems recently (hurrah! paid to do something I do for fun!), and as I was working, I noticed that I had the following pages open as tabs in my web browser:

1. Google mail, from which I opened the text of the poem
2. Google docs, where I was translating the poem
3. Google search (actually constituting several of the tabs), where I sought out some obscure vocabulary about rocks (the subject of the poem) and an Auden poem to which this poem makes a reference
4. Google books, where I found a Glossary of Geology that was invaluable for finding synonyms for, say, "pebble"
5. Google reader, where I was NOT at the moment actually reading blogs, many of which are about language and translation
6. Google image search, where I WAS, out of curiosity, trying to get a glimpse of the face of the poet I'm translating

If you had caught me at another time, I may also have been perusing Google analytics to check out my blog's site statistics, or Google maps to quickly find that street where we have to meet for rehearsal.

Thrown into the mix were a couple of Wikipedia pages on marble and other stones, three of my trustiest online Catalan dictionaries, and the online OED, accessed through my university library.

All of which leads me to think: Google is taking over the world! (And I probably couldn't live without it.) Also, in the days before the web, translators must have been surrounded by towering piles of dictionaries and other reference books, and must have spent ages in the library looking through, say, the 779 pages of the Glossary of Geology or whatever other specialized vocabulary the text at hand called for. Now, it's all boiled down to a few virtual tabs on a flat color screen. It's dizzying, isn't it?

1 comment:

pinolona said...

I've often wondered what translators did before google. I don't think I'd have had the patience in those days... the mind boggles...