On-line Chinese to english translation?

I have an in-law from China, who only speaks and writes Chinese. She is fluent in the traditional Chinese characters, but not familiar with pinyin. We find that we can talk TO her using Google Translate (type in the English sentence, and it outputs the traditional Chinese character version). But we have not found a good way to translate FROM her. Naturally, this makes conversation difficult!

What I’m looking for is either a mouse-input drawing interface, or a keyboard (standard QWERTY) interface that would let her construct a sentence in traditional Chinese characters, and then translate it into English. Anyone know of such a website and/or program?

By the by, there was a recent thread here with some good tools, but they were one-character-at-a-time. None that seemed to lend themselves to a conversational exchange. This is an eighty-year old, so I don’t want to put her through lots of technical hoops!

Thanks, gang!!

Your in law is from Mainland China or Taiwan? Does she know pinyin? It would be odd if she is from Mainland China and only knows traditional characters. Just double checking that you haven’t mixed up traditional and simplified because, hey, it’s China, and anything is possible.

I was already going to suggest Google translate.

Any kind of transliteration program will be based on some kind of Romanization. Can your spouse ask if she understands any kind of Romanization. if your in law is from Taiwan, then they probably understand zhuyinfuhao (Bopomofo), which can have a specialized keyboard.

I’ve seen but never actually used programs where you can write characters with the mouse. I had a usb pad to write characters but it was much slower than pinyin for me.

Any smartphone and probably any tablet in China will have simplified Chinese character input. Not sure if it will have traditional. Smartphones and tablets from Taiwan will have a traditional character drawing option. I guess that she doesn’t have one of these but maybe.

not very helpful I know. Posting to also learn something if anyone else has a good solution for your in law

Yes, she is from central mainland China. I don’t *think *she knows pinyin, because if she did they would be chatting happily back and forth using Google Translate. But it’s possible I’m wrong about that, and they just didn’t realize they could do it. I’ll have to check to be sure. I also don’t know if she knows the “traditional” or the “simplified” characters. They look pretty much the same to me.

The lady in question is my brother’s wife’s mother. (Bro and I are American, his wife is from China but studied in America and is fluent in English, her mother knows Mandarin only.) She and her husband came to America to help my brother and his wife raise their three small children. She lost her (also Mandarin-speaking-only) husband last week to a heart attack, and is very lonely.

I was asked to see if there is a way to get her some two-way communication with the rest of the (all American) family, as I’m the allegedly tech savvy one! I’ll have to find out more of the details about what she knows and what she can do. I don’t think she has any Chinese tablets or smart phones, but we can probably get her one if that will solve the problem (sis-in-law travels to China frequently on business). I wouldn’t exactly say that money is no object, but some amount of investment would certainly be possible.

Thanks for the help!

Well, if you don’t mind buying stuff, iOS has handwriting input for traditional and simplified Chinese characters, and you can use Google Translate on an iOS device. Macs also accept simplified Chinese writing on their touchpads. A keyboard would be hard to use for input if she’s not used to one.

But the best method is probably a dedicated Chinese-English translator. It doesn’t need Internet, and the dictionary is probably better. The should be quite easy to find in China, but try and get one that she’s comfortable using.