One of the challenges in genealogy searches is deciphering documents written in the languages of your ancestors. While you may have inherited many physical characteristics from your forebears, language ability probably was not one of them. How can you read documents written in French or Dutch or Italian?
The answer is to hire a translator. Indeed, many thousands of genealogists have done that for years. However, a new Web service provides free translations from a handful of languages into English.
When you copy and paste a Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese or Russian word or phrase into one field on Freetranslation.com, the English translation appears almost instantly in another. It also works the other way: the site translates English into one of 10 different languages, including two forms of Chinese (though for this, you'd probably need to install what's called a "language pack" so that your PC can display the characters).
Of course, machine-generated translations are marginal at best. The service works well for a word or perhaps for a sentence or two; However, longer texts do not seem to work as well. For extensive works you might want to hire a human translator. Freetranslation.com will provide one, for a fee.
You can obtain free translations at: http://www.freetranslation.com/