March 8, 2010

Reminder about accents on the automatic French translation page

The automatic French translation system can be extremely useful in giving you the gist of a particular text. However, the system often does not give as good a result as it could because of missing accents on the text that uesrs enter into the system. When you are inputting a French text to be translated into English, it is important to try and enter the accents that appear on letters as accurately as possible.

If you are not using a French keyboard (or a keyboard designed for other languages that make regular use of accented letters), then typing accents can be tricky. To make life a bit easier, the translation system actually understands a few accent shortcuts, so that you can type the accents with an everyday UK or US keyboard. The shortcuts are as follows:

- to type an acute or grave accent (a slanting line above the letter), type either a slash (/) or backslash (\) after the vowel, to match the direction in which the accent slopes (i.e. slash for an acute, backslash for a grave)
- for a circumflex (a "hat" above the vowel), type a hat symbol (^) after the vowel
- for a diaeresis (the "two dots" that appear above a vowel letter, to indicate that it is pronounced as a separate vowel to the letter next to it), type a quote symbol (") after the vowel letter
- to type a cedilla (a line or hook appearing on the bottom of a letter "c", to indicate that it is pronounced as a [s] sound), put a comma after the c (c, or C,)