Sunday, 12 November 2006

Mousetrap - 78

Many-tongued
Ultralingua Online Dictionary
There are many online dictionaries out there, and on-the-fly translators too. This site combines a bit of both, covering the Romance Languages. It works like a normal look-up, of course, but also offers grammar resources, and lovely add-ons like the ability to conjugate verbs in those languages, or get words for a number (eg.: enter 935, and it will give you the German neunhundertf├╝nfunddrei├čig or the Spanish novecientos treinta y cinco). But the best bit, to me, is the ability to produce a dictionary-enabled version of any web page. Enter the URL, choose a dictionary, and you get a page where every word can be clicked to yield a pop-up definition. Invaluable if you have a shaky grasp of a language and need help often. [Via Ethan Zuckerman.]

Subtitled
Planet Read & Desi Lassi
Movies in other languages with subtitles in the one we read? Common. But subtitles in the same language? Think of it this way: not all who understand or speak a language can read it. So Planet Read aims to use Same Language Subtitling to help spread literacy. Stands to reason: karaoke-style subtitling below the visual does help increase understanding. Among its off-shoot projects (some commercial) is Desi Lassi, which streams music videos from Bollywood at you, with subtitles not just in Hindi but also transliterated in Roman script, and translated. (And so, for the first time, I actually figured out the lyrics of Chhainya Chhainya. I have to admit, though, it was difficult to keep one’s eyes on the words and not Ms Arora...)

The Late
Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory
When it comes to ways to shuffle off the mortal coil, popular musicians seem to have the widest range, from the banal to the tragic, from stupid to bizarre. And this site aims to catalogue them all. “A Site About Dead Musicians...and how they got that way,” is says, and lets your search by name and cause of death. Not for the queasy.

Wardrobe Dysfunction
Ugly, Ugly, Bollywood Fugly
A collablog dedicated to the sometimes outlandish choices our costume designers seem to make and inflict on our stars and hapless dancers in the background. Plenty of pictures, natch, so will take a while to load if you’re on a dial-up. (Frequent readers of this column will remember from a few months ago, that “fugly” is short for “fantastically ugly.” You can change the F word to something stronger if you wish.)

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to http://o3.indiatimes.com/mousetrap for past columns, and to comment, or mail inthemousetrap@indiatimes.com. The writer blogs at http://zigzackly.blogspot.com.

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 12th November, 2006.

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