November 30, 2009

Dictionary update fixed

In yesterday's update to the French dictionary, a few basic words were temporarily missed out. The error has now been fixed. Apologies to those who were told that some basic words such as habiter could not be found...!

November 29, 2009

New URL for translation newsletter

The URL for signing up for the translation mailing list has changed. For those interested in signing up, please go to the following address:

Those signing up will receive e-mail notifications of free and reduced-price translation offers in the future. Providing accurate details will help to make sure that you are informed of offers most appropriate to your needs. When signing up, please take care to enter a correct e-mail address!

For beta testers: corrections to pronunciation section

For beta testers of the French pronunciation section: a few corrections have been made to the pronunciations of words with accents (to correct character encoding problem).

Dictionary entries include present subjunctive

As you have probably noticed, entries for verbs in the French dictionary contain a "mini verb table" listing some of the most common verb forms for that verb. A minor change has been made so that these tables now display the present subjunctive form of the verb.

As explained in more detail in the French grammar section, the subjunctive forms are special forms used to mark a non-assertion. In other words, they're the rough equivalent of English structures such as him coming, for them to help, where the emphasis is not so much on an actual action taking place, but more on a "snapshot" of an envisaged situation.

For most verbs, the subjunctive forms are not so complicated provided you know the "normal" (indicative) present tense plus, for the nous and vous forms, the French imperfect tense. However, for a few verbs, subjunctive forms can look quite different from the normal present tense form. (For example, the present tense of aller is usually je vais etc, but the corresponding subjunctive form is j'aille.)

November 27, 2009

French 'SMS speak' decode reinstated

On the automatic French translation page, the "Decode SMS speak" function has been reinstanted. This function replaces some common SMS abbreviations used in French text messages so that the machine translator can understand them.

For example, c will be expanded to c'est; chuis to je suis; koi to quoi etc.

Certain more complex forms are also expanded: for example, jmappel will be expanded to je m'appelle. The SMS decoder is in constant development-- watch this space for further improvements!

Please note that the automatic translator is designed for translating whole sentences/paragraphs of text. For single words, it is still recommended that you use the French dictionary.

November 25, 2009

Today's French dictionary update

A number of new entries and improvements in both the English-French and French-English sides of the dictionaries have been uploaded today.

November 2, 2009

French dictionay update

As usual, today's update to the French dictionary adds various new entries and improvements to various English-French entries.

A question I've been asked a couple of times is whether I would like to be notified of missing entries. So I'd like to take this opportunity to ensure users that the dictionary system automatically notifies me of this and various other issues (including, for example, frequently consulted entries that contain few examples and are thus prime candidates for being expanded).

If you do find that the dictionary doesn't provide enough examples of a particular word, then remember that another useful resource is the translation examples site, which allows you to search a public domain database of translations between French and English (and various other language pairs).

November 1, 2009

Bug fix to verb conjugations

A problem has now been fixed that was causing certain verb conjugations not to appear. French verb conjugations may now be displayed by any of the following means:
  • from the French grammar page, by clicking on one of the verbs in the list in the Verb Conjugations section (the green boxed section);
  • from entries in the French dictionary: as you are probably aware, in entries for verbs, forms for four common tenses are displayed within the entry itself (present, imperfect, future and perfect), but clicking on the link marked Click here to see the full conjugation will now display the full conjugation for all verbs (thus fixing a problem whereby certain verbs with accented letters did not display properly);
  • advanced users may also link directly to the conjugation of a particular verb (see below).
To link directly to a verb conjugation from your web site, simply construct a URL of the following form:
placing immediately before the .html the infinitive of the verb you wish to be conjugated (in these examples, "regarder" and "se taire" are chosen). In the second case, adding "R" before the final .html indicates that the conjugation of a "reflexive" (pronominal) verb is to be displayed.

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French wordsearches reinstated

Eagle-eyed users of the French Linguistics web site will have noticed that the French wordsearches were not working over this weekend. The problem appears to have been caused by an update performed on Friday evening and has now been fixed. Apologies for the inconvenience caused to our wordsearch addicts.

Update and minor disruptions today

The French Linguistics site will undergo some occasional short disruptions today as some updates and bug fixes are applied to the site. Apologies for the inconvenience. If you find that a particular feature isn't working, you are advised to try again in 5 minutes.