Cymraeg to English and back – How to do super fast dictionary look-ups

by Carl Morris on December 21, 2009

Here’s a quick tip for looking up words on the Firefox web browser.

The tip uses smart keywords and will work for any dictionary – or indeed any web page – as long as it has a search box. The result is very impressive and it takes a lot of friction out of expanding your vocabulary.

Whenever I want to look up a word, I type a very short keyboard into the address bar followed by the word I want. Then I get the translation in seconds. You can too.

For example, if I want to look up the Cymraeg word “cyflym” then I type:
c cyflym

into the address bar, press enter and I go to a web page with its dictionary entry.

If I want to look up the English word “something” then I type:
e something

into the address bar, press enter and I go to a web page with its dictionary entry.

The letters c and e are my chosen keywords to look up a Cymraeg word or English word respectively.

My choice for everyday terms tends to be the BBC’s Cymraeg-English dictionary. We’ll use that one here. Here’s how to set it up.

  1. Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/wales/learnwelsh/welsh_dictionary.pl
  2. Right-click on the white text box above the “english > welsh” button. You’ll get a context menu.
  3. From the menu, click “Add a Keyword for this Search”
  4. Type your chosen name for the keyword. You could type “BBC English to Welsh” as a reminder for the future (although it can be anything).
  5. Type your chosen keyword. I like one-letter or two-letter keywords. For English to Welsh I use a letter e.
  6. Repeat from point 2, but click on the other text box immediately above “welsh > english” and chose a diffrerent keyword. For Welsh to English I use a letter c for Cymraeg.

If you want to delete or edit a keyword, it can be found in your Firefox bookmarks.

I know there are many, many browsers out there. Certain others may support a similar feature to that of Firefox.

The BBC dictionary is not my only choice. I sometimes refer to Geiriadur as an alternative for everyday terms and Termiadur for technical and scientific terms. You could set up keywords for those too, as well as any other website with a search box such as YouTube or Google Blog Search.

If it’s a passage of text, Google Translate can be handy for the gist but be careful. It wasn’t designed as a dictionary and makes a poor substitute.

Happy vocab expanding.

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