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evilevan March 10, 2008 12:10 PM

handheld automatic translator
Voy a viajar en Costa Rica para uno semana. I know some Spanish, but I want to buy a handheld automatic spanish to english translator to help me out. I don't know which one is the best or where to go to get one. Please help me. Muchos Gracias.

Rusty March 10, 2008 02:20 PM

Costa Rica is a wonderful place to visit!

If you don't mind, I'll correct your Spanish.
Voy a viajar a Costa Rica por una semana. ... Muchas gracias.

I can't recommend any handheld translators, as none will do a great job. There are handhelds that talk (some with voice recognition), and there are those that let you type in a word or a sentence at a time. There are several web sites offering these.

The important thing to remember when dealing with a mechanical translator is to provide plenty of context and choose ordinary words. Avoid idiomatic expressions and words that have double meanings. For example, typing in 'can' by itself will probably retrieve lata. But, if you meant 'I can,' it should return puedo.

Maybe others have a favorite brand or can steer you in the right direction. I don't like mechanical translations.

Depending on where you go, there are tour guides that speak English.

wrholt October 09, 2017 11:13 AM

I agree with Rusty: Costa Rica is a wonderful place to visit!

Also like Rusty, I'm not a big fan of automated translation systems. While they are improving (slowly), they generally do a poor job translating idioms or figures of speech. Online translation sites generally have similar drawbacks.

However, for my first trip to Brazil several months ago I installed the Google Translate app and its English-Portuguese dictionary onto my smart phone, and used the bilingual-dictionary features at as a method to cross-check the app's suggested translations. I found using that combination of tools to occasionally be useful for finding an acceptable translation for some word or short expression in Portuguese. These tools also have English-Spanish dictionaries.

Even so, I don't find using translation apps or sites to be useful while having a conversation: it interferes too much with the flow of the conversation, and I find it to be more effective to find some more round-about way to convey what I wish to say.

Another suggestion: have a supply of 3-by-5 cards, and use them to write down the name and address of the place you want to go to, and have one with the name and address of the place where you are lodging. This can make it easier for you to inform your taxi driver where you wish to go so they can tell you an estimate of what the fare should be. If you are staying at a hotel, the concierge or reception desk clerk should be able to suggest what typical fares should be, and whether or not its customary for tourists or foreign visitors to pay a different fare than a local resident would.

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