Use Lang-8 to Help Foreign Text Translation
Date: March 29, 2013
There are a variety of great tools online to help with foreign language text. Google Translate, for example, can help us determine the meaning of a musically-important word in a text setting, and great online dictionaries abound. Of course, many great editions give text translations out of the box, but sometimes we really want to dive in to a particular line or phrase, which singable text translations and other "conveniences" don't give us.
Lang-8 is a website which pairs native speakers of many languages together to help with language practice. The model is very simple: you enter the languages that you speak/write fluently, and those which you wish to practice. You can then write posts in your target language, which are sent to native speakers of that language for reading. They make comments or suggestions and return them to you, and in the meantime, you can assist with a couple of other submissions in your already-fluent language. Of course, standard "crowdsourcing" caveats apply: you don't really know how much expertise is on the other end of the line, but from judging some of the responses that I've seen both in editing and submitting, the overall level seems pretty competent.
Posts can be as long (i.e. daily journal) or as short (a couple of sentences) as you like. This is where it can be very useful for translating individual lines or phrases out of text. If you have an individual section that you want to have translated, you can write it in the text with a note up front ("Can you help me translate this?") and send it out as one of your "target" languages. You'll then (hopefully!) get several responses, which you can use to get an overall sense of the phrase. It's a great way to quickly get some expertise from native speakers of far more uncommon languages when you don't have anyone available.