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Using free German translation for better translations

Online resources to help you translate German better

By a free German translation I mean a German text and its English equivalent - or vice versa, both available, free of charge, for you to compare side by side.

Using free German translation is a great way to:

  • Improve your translation skills
  • Check up on terminology
  • Keep up to date with current phraseology

1. Free German translation sources

Here are a few articles I've put together plus some useful ideas about how to get the most out of the German and English texts you can find on the web:

2. Free resources for better German!

You need a great command of German to produce good German translations. Here are a few free sources of language support to help you improve your German translation skills:

  • German TV & radio stations - improve your listening skills, learn to differentiate between accents, and pick up some of the latest phrases doing the rounds.
  • German newspapers - sit down with a coffee and have a good read. All newspapers available online (and many with English editions). Who said studying can't be fun!
  • German magazines - boost your language skills & cultural awareness by having a good browse! You don't have to go to the hairdresser to read the gossip pages...

Avoiding the dangers of "Denglisch"

However good your translation skills, target language deprivation is a recognised problem, whatever your language combination.


This simply means that if you're a native English speaker living in a German-speaking environment (like myself), then there is a danger of losing touch with your native tongue - the language you translate into (“target” language).

Familiarity breeds contempt – you can get so used to seeing certain words used or spelled incorrectly that you become unsure of their correct usage.

For example, I find a particular danger with German is the tendency to get lulled into using capital letters (euro? Euro? ) where English uses the lower case.

Or failing to spot “false friends” such as the German word Fusion (usually amalgamation, merger – only fusion if you are translating a text referring to nuclear reactors).

I go into some of these potential German language traps here.

Now whether these are the product of a German translator suffering from "Denglisch", or have been written by a native German speaker overly confident about their English, examples of "not quite English" abound in the German-speaking environment.

Here in Austria I've come across:

  • An international airline with the slogan 'the most friendly XXX'
  • A public relations company describing itself as 'comunicative'
  • And every lift I step into proudly announces that I shouldn’t be using it – "Do not use in case of fire". *

There are many ways to combat target language deprivation: spending time back in your native country, reading and listening to publications in your native language, joining a local expat group of native speakers where you live, and – for German translators or students of German translation - using free German translation sources to compare German and English texts.

* FriendLIEST, comMunicative, in THE case of fire – but you knew that!

Happy practising with these sources of free German translation. And if you can recommend any more that might help visitors, just let us know.

Thank you!


German Translation Tips & Resources

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