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I am a user from Germany and my English isn't perfect. Normally, I use a spell checker (Word) or a translation tool (Google Translate) to check my text. This process isn't comfortable. A translation tool like Google Translate, integrated into the Stack Overflow editor, would be of great value for me.


I am surprised by the critical comments, answers and votes on this request. Therefore I want to clarify the use case for this feature.

Normally I write my text in English. Usually some kind of spellchecking is enabled. If I feel bad about my English I make a machine translation to German. Machine translation isn’t perfect. I know. But if I get totally nonsense in the German translation, there is something wrong with my English, and I iteratively correct this. Next steps: Clipping the text to Stack Overflow's editor, formatting of text and code, send.

I think with this procedure I respect the non-English question policy.

As I initially stated: This isn’t comfortable and it would be much more comfortable with, for example, a mash up, integrating a spell checker and a translation tool.

The question in comments “Doesn't your browser have a spell checker?” - Maybe it’s possible to choose another browser or install further plug-ins, but I prefer a server side solution for this central feature.

The argument “Machine translation leads to poor English” doesn’t apply here. There is no machine translation to English, but just a temporary machine translation to German.

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Don't worry! Stack Overflow in German is in progress... Just follow it.. – hims056 Jan 5 '13 at 9:18
@hims056: Interesting. Following. But it is not my first interest to speak German on SO. The English speaking community is much bigger… – Dirk Brockhaus Jan 5 '13 at 9:23
Doesn't your browser have a spell checker? – Bart Jan 5 '13 at 9:27
Automated translation tool would just make people write in their native language, click the button and send without looking -- and the results would be more often than not even more gibberish than they are now. – Juhana Jan 5 '13 at 9:47
And it would be very hard if not impossible to make sure the tool doesn't try to translate pieces of code. Many first-time askers don't format the code properly. – Juhana Jan 5 '13 at 9:48
Unless you have a certain amount of proficiency in a language using the translation tool is just going to give you a translation for which you can never be sure whether it is correct or not. If you have that proficiency already, the translation tool does not give you anything. I am native German speaker as well – Harald Scheirich Jan 5 '13 at 12:05
If you want to see the unchecked results of automated translation tools, just translate some text from German to English and back to German again. – Jack Maney Jan 5 '13 at 19:43

English can't be your mother language; it's not mine either. This isn't our fault. But on this topic, the community expect one thing. Try your best. For example; I almost always use before asking a question for prevent spelling problem. There are a lot of grammar checker sites on the internet.

In We need to help non-English-speakers somehow, Shog9 said;

If I have the time, and even think that I understand the question, I'll edit to try and make it accessible.

But if I can't make sense of it, and no-one else is editing it, I'll down-vote and/or vote to close. That may seem harsh, but... at some point, a question is effectively just noise, regardless of whether its author intended for that to happen.

Also in Non-English Question Policy

  • Direct programmers to native language resources. Users who post non-English questions should be gently directed to programming forums in their own language. Community should form around the gravity of native human languages. (see: Chinatown, Little Italy, etc.) Feel free to post links to appropriate human language-specific resources.
  • It is not our goal to teach English. It is our goal to teach programming. If the post has salvageable English and makes some modicum of sense, it should be edited and improved just like any other post. If it does not, it should be closed.
  • The asker has to put effort into the question. Barging into an obviously English dominated forum and insisting on posting a question in another language is no different than the “do my work for me” sort of programming questions — the worst possible sin on Stack Overflow in my humble opinion. You want us to give you answers? Then prove that you’ve put some effort into the question, and you can begin by politely asking it in the language this community is formed around.
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My answer :

Les traductions de Google ou de MS Word ne sont pas efficaces. Par ailleurs, les questions et les réponses sont techniques et en conséquence, le vocabulaire utilisé est complexe et parfois mauvais. De plus, les langues natives sont souvent mal utilisées ou bourrées de fautes d'orthographe ou de vocabulaire social. Uniformiser la langue permet à tout le monde de comprendre les questions et les réponses, même si l'anglais est parfois de mauvaise qualité.

Google Translation :

Translations by Google or MS Word are not effective. Moreover, the questions and the answers are technical and accordingly, the vocabulary used is complex and sometimes bad. In addition, native languages ​​are often misused or stuffed spelling or vocabulary social. Standardize the language allows everyone to understand the questions and the answers, even if English is sometimes bad.

OK the Google's tool is more than enough for litteral explainations with a good spelling and a good vocabulary. But if I don't master a programming language and use wrong words and bad spelling, the resulting meaning should be mistaking or harder to catch.

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While you might find translating back to German to be an effective tool for monitoring the quality of your English, I don't believe that it is a reliable-enough tool to make sense as an integrated part of this site. While I don't believe that it can turn a bad English question into a good 'Language X' version, I also don't believe that it reliably turn an OK English question into an OK 'Language X' version all the languages people will try to use it in. Much of the time, it will turn an acceptable English question into mush in 'Language X'. I'd be much more in favor of integrating a stronger spelling and grammar checker than integration 'reverse MT'.

It's also possible that some enthusiast here will cook up a toolbar button that would do what you want without any change to the site at all, along the lines of 'readability.'

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