Google has once again come through with an extremely useful tool for anyone needing to use or study Chinese, Japanese, or other languages that don’t use a romanised alphabet. The latest update to Google Translate includes a very useful option to show or hide romanisation, which will be great news for people like me who can’t read characters but use a character-based language.
For Chinese, Google Translate provides a result in pinyin, the standardised romanisation system for Mandarin Chinese, which helps with both pronunciation and reading. Previously, I could look up the translation for an English sentence, but only receive the result in simplified Chinese characters. This is fine for writing, of course, but when it came to saying the sentence out loud, I was at a loss.
Now, it is easy to see how the words are pronounced, and as you can show or hide the pinyin, it’s quite a good way to test your knowledge of the characters.
Note: As with any machine translation, this service may not provide completely correct translations, but it’s a good place to start for basic queries or to get the overall idea of a piece of writing.