Anyone know of a good electronic translator? We need - Demmark, Sweeden, and Russia. Most of what we see in our on-line research do not get good reviews.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
4486 posts

I think in Denmark and Sweden, just use English after politely asking if they speak English. I'd say 90% of people under 50 are comfortable in English as it is the international language of business. Russia, keep looking.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21487 posts

Sandi, Could you clarify if you're looking for just a Translator, or an App for a Smartphone? For the languages you specified, the most comprehensive App that I'm aware of is called LingoPal. It includes all of the languages you mentioned, and can work off-line. It's capable of speaking phrases in each language, and rotating the display produces the written version. If you'd prefer a stand-alone Translator, you might have a look at THIS product to see if it might fit your criteria. I agree with Sam in that you'll probably find many people in Sweden and Denmark that can function well in English. All of the people I've met from Scandinavia have had excellent English skills. I haven't been to Russia yet, but from what I've heard from other travellers, language could be an issue in some places, especially outside of Moscow. You may be able to get by with just a Phrasebook in Russia? I wouldn't be comfortable showing a Smartphone on the street there. Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by Nancy
Bloomington, IL, USA
8338 posts

It has generally been the consensus here in the past that electronic translators are not worth the money. They don't get good reviews because they aren't very practical. Even if you take the time to type out a question, will you understand the response? You probably won't find that much of a language problem. A little phrase book with menu terms could be all you need.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7870 posts

We did get Jibbigo for our Ipod touch on our last trip (Spanish as only visited Spain). It's just okay, usually more trouble than it's worth, but it did help out occasionally and we didn't invest a lot into it. For your trip, you will have no trouble in Scandinavia. English is the common second language of almost everyone - many signs are also written in the local language and English. Russia is different; few speak English. Think about getting a translation app for Russian only unless you are traveling with a guide. The letters are probably the hardest part with Russian. Once I figured those out, I was surprised how many words I could figure out.

Posted by James E.
3251 posts

Then again it depends on where you go in Russia. My bet is in St. Petersburg english speaking people are going to be common. In Moscow I know they are common. From Bulgaria to England I have never had much of a problem with languages; well except with cab drivers in London.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4742 posts

I agree with the above replies, that how much of a language barrier you will encounter depends on exactly where you are going. For Sweden and Denmark, you won't have trouble. English is widespread. A phrasebook or dictionary may help, but an electronic translator is just a waste. For Russia, you will find some English in St. Petersburg (probably sufficient for a typical tourist itinerary), less English in Moscow, and almost no English everywhere else (in the Golden Ring towns of Suzdal and Vladimir, I would have been in very big trouble had I gone alone instead of with my Russian-speaking sister). Rather than worrying about translation, do yourself a favor and pick up the book Read and Write Russian Script: A Teach Yourself Guide (I have an earlier version, Teach Yourself The Cyrillic Alphabet). Without being able to read the signs, you will be helpless. But if you can read the alphabet, you can make your way around the Metro and can decode some basic words (PECTOPAH is "restoran" and indeed is a restaurant). I'd worry much more about the alphabet than any vocabulary. It was also helpful to know the numbers from 1 to 10, and of course "please," "thank you," and "good day" ("hello" is actually quite hard to pronounce, so I just used "good day"). I'll say it again - unless you will have a guide for your entire Russia visit, learn the Cyrillic alphabet. You'll thank me once you're there. BTW, it's not as hard as it appears at first. There are only a few new sounds to learn, and many will be familiar if you know even a bit of another language such as German or Hebrew. The hard part is that many of the letters look like ours, but are pronounced differently (as in the example above, where "P" is an "r," "C" is an "s," and "H" is an "n").

Posted by Sandi
Moreno Valley, CA, USA
18 posts

Thamks for the input. We are really "language challenged", but will be sticking to St. Pers. and Moscow. Will use a guide in Moscow for all except maybe the Kremlin and things right around Red Square. Our hotel is walking distance to that area, and the hotel folks we've talked to seem to have pretty good English. The most fun we've had traveling has always been the most unpredictable. So, I guess as long as we don't get arrested or totally lost, we'll be OK.

Posted by Tom
Lewiston, NY
10505 posts

Yes, learn the Cyrillic alphabet. You'll be surprised how many words important to travelers sound the same in English and Russian. Harold beat me to my usual example- PECTOPAH, but others include METPO (metro), NHTEPHET (reverse the N- internet), TYPN3M (reverse the N again, tourism), etc. I think it would be pretty difficult to find someone in Denmark and Sweden who doesn't speak English, particularly those employed in businesses that a tourist would use.