Desktop: Greenhorns unite!

Thanks to the Internet, Hebrew doesn't have to remain a mystery akin to hieroglyphics.

Kermit the Frog was right. It's not easy being green - a greenhorn, that is. It's an old-fashioned kind of word, what they used to call European immigrants to the New World 100 or so years ago. But guess what - history is repeating itself. Don't believe me? Just listen to your kids having a mile-a-minute (sorry, kilometer a minute) conversation in Hebrew with their friends, and see how much of it you can follow. A greenhorn, of course, is a clueless newcomer. And while many of us are not that "new" here anymore - and far from clueless - anyone who was raised in an English-speaking country is naturally more comfortable with English. For example: When you're in the dentist's office, what do you pick up to read - today's Hebrew newspaper or a 1997 copy of Good Housekeeping? There's a reason they call it "mother tongue." Thanks to the Internet, though, Hebrew doesn't have to remain a mystery akin to hieroglyphics. Of course, there are Web sites where you can cut and paste text in Hebrew and get an English translation or vice versa, but these tend to produce unsatisfying results, with poor sentence structure and lots of spelling mistakes. But there are better translation services - where you can get help not from a computer database, but from a real live person. Like the one they offer at Cucumis (, "a community of translators who share their linguistic knowledge and help each other on-line." You sign up for the service and start amassing points, which you can then "spend" on translations. You get points by translating for other people (i.e. Hebrew to English); if your translation skills aren't strong enough, you can still use the site (but you may have to wait a few days for help). You post a document you want translated, state what language you need and a Cucumis volunteer will take care of business. What's really great about Cucumis is that it has lots of people translating languages that are very hard to get translation help with - Norwegian, Urdu, Nepali, Albanian, even Esperanto - as well as French, German and, of course, Hebrew. If you don't feel confident taking on a whole document, but really, really want to help those who help you, you might feel more comfortable with Traduwiki (, where documents are translated by a whole team of folks. Each document to be translated is broken up into smaller pieces and posted separately, meaning that different people will be working on each section. When it's done, the site "sews" the text together, and you've got a complete translation. The documents preferred by Traduwikians are of general educational interest; if you've got an interesting article people want to read, it's got more of a chance at getting translated than your resumé (unlike Cucumis, where there are many personal projects). Thanks to these sites, you can consider yourself a little less green!