The Best Online Chinese Translators

Learning Chinese, but still can’t understand a certain part of a text? This article discusses some of the best free online Chinese translators.

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translate.google.com

Google’s translate service can translate entire websites using a URL, or translate an unlimited sized text pasted into it. It is now very interactive, and can automatically detect the language that you paste into the input box. This is probably the best of the online translators on the web. In addition to translating from Chinese to English and vice versa, it can translate to and from Chinese in more than 20 different languages. Another very cool feature about this is if you are going from Chinese to another language, and you want to use Google’s method for Pinyin, just click on Chinese for the first language, and then click on “拼”, and you will be able to type in Pinyin. You can even use Google Translate to draw Chinese Characters through your browser, and then translate that way. You can learn how to do that with this article. I think this is the best free online translator for translating from Chinese into a foreign language. Note though, if you want to translate to Chinese from another language, I would probably recommend either Baidu’s or Youdao’s translator.

fanyi.baidu.com

baidu.com is the number one site in Mainland China, and Baidu’s translation service is located at fanyi.baidu.com. The fanyi part of fanyi.baidu.com comes from 翻译 (fan1 yi4) meaning to translate. This is a very good translator that allows you to look up words or translate entire paragraphs with no size limits. I think that this is the top free online translator from a Chinese company. As of the 30 October 2017, this site can translate between 28 different languages including Chinese and English, Korean, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, Russian, French, and Thai. By default this site translates from the detected language into Mandarin Chinese. This service allows you to translate entire websites via their URL into Chinese. To translate an entire URL into Chinese, just paste the URL, and click on the button “翻译”. One additional interesting feature is often when you wanting something translated, it will give you real examples of things similar to what want translated. Additionally, I really like the feature that allows you to translate between Cantonese(粤语) and Mandarin.

fanyi.youdao.com

This is another excellent online translator from a Chinese company. This site can translate between Mandarin and 7 other other languages including English, Korean, Spanish, Japanese, Russian, and French. Although I prefer Baidu’s translator and Google’s translator, this is a site that I used to check from time to time to double-check translations.

bing.com/translator

This is Microsoft’s online translator using Bing technology. This site is quite similar to Google’s translation site. This is a fabulous site for translating to and from Chinese from many languages. It allows you to translate text that you paste into the site, or have an entire URL translated for you. You can even have the translation spoken to you.

translate.yandex.com

Last but not least, is Yandex’s translator translate.yandex.com. yandex.com, which is in English, is actually quite a good alternative to google.com. Yandex’s translate service currently can translate between Chinese and over 80 different languages. With this service, you can even translate into languages that Google doesn’t translate into.

Do you use any of these online translators? Do you have anything to add? Let’s discuss it in the comments below.

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8 thoughts on “The Best Online Chinese Translators”

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yellowbridge is also a very good resource. I think I’ve also used the annotator in the past. It seems to be quite good. I like how hovering over various Chinese words will give you the Pinyin and definition(s).

  1. I’m trying to translate a chapter out of a Chinese book that’s in paper rather than electronic form. How do you get an online translator, like the ones you discuss, handle that?

    1. That situation is harder. You will need some way to scan the paper into text. Maybe you could use a scanner, or take photos with a camera and have some way to convert those photos into text. Sure, there are many ways you could scan a book, but you want the text from it so you could paste it into translating software. You might want to check out this link which talks about something similar https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-scan-a-large-book-to-extract-the-text-out-of-it
      But, make sure it can support Chinese Characters. No matter what though, I think this would be time consuming.

  2. I am interested in why words translated from a non-roman language like chinese are not given their phonetic roman equivalent? Why isn’t hsieh spelt shway? There seems no logical reason. Chinese characters translated to roman letters do not require non-phonetic spelling. Can you help, please?

    1. Hello. This is actually a complicated question. There are many sounds in Chinese that don’t exist in English and likewise many sounds in English that don’t exist in Chinese.

      X (from Pinyin) in Mandarin is similar to sh in English, but not exactly the the same. The tongue positions to make the sounds are different, and there are other differences.

      hsieh comes from Wade-Giles. Wade-Giles was invented by 2 men: Thomas Wade and Herbert Giles. Both these men were brilliant Sinologists, and their system was one of the first romanisation systems invented for Chinese to Western languages. hsieh exactly maps to xie in Pinyin. There are actually 2 main Romanisation systems used today: Pinyin (used in Mainland China), and Wade-Giles which is still used in Taiwan and before Mainland China became communist.

      hsieh is actually very logical. You just need to learn about how Wade-giles sets up the transliteration. I made a Wade-giles to Pinyin conversion table which you can see below.
      https://mandarinportal.com/pinyin-wade-giles-conversion-table/

      Below is a Wade-Giles to Pinyin conversion table
      https://mandarinportal.com/wade-giles-pinyin-conversion-table/

      One of the huge issues with Wade-Giles is that apostrophes are critical with system. If one incorrectly uses apostrophes or omits them, it would represent totally different sounds. So, if people are lazy with them, it creates problems. For example, ch’a and cha represent different sounds in Wade-Giles. They correspond to zha and cha in Pinyin.

      Additionally, it is nearly impossible to perfectly transliterate Chinese into Western languages because Chinese is a tonal language, but most Western languages are not. So, if just the sound is transliterated, but the tone dropped, you lose a lot. I actually think Wade-Giles is more scientific than Pinyin. Wade-Giles uses diacritics, including ê, û, and ü.

      The reason Pinyin is used more now is largely for historical and political reasons. Taiwan also uses Bopomofo, but it is basically never used to transliterate into English. It is used to teach people the phonetics of Mandarin so then they can learn Chinese Characters.

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