Free Translation Dictionary for Mobile Phones

If you’re traveling to a country where they speak another language, one thing that’s always handy to have with you is a translation dictionary for looking up unfamiliar words. In the past, this often meant carrying at a pocket dictionary, which required either stuffing it into your pocket or carrying a bag, neither option always being practical (especially if you’re a male). Now, however, you’re probably carrying a cell phone or other mobile device around with you, which is also a pocket computer and perfectly capable of running a small bilingual dictionary application for looking up words in foreign languages. While there are a few software companies making translation dictionaries for mobile phones, KODi dictionary for mobile phones is the only one I’ve found which is free and which uses Java, guaranteeing it will be compatible with a wide range of phones. Available translation dictionaries for English include Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Russian, Norwegian, Finnish, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Turkish and Japanese. If your native language is something other than English, there are also dictionaries for other languages, i.e. German to Spanish.

If you have a way of connecting your phone to your computer and transferring files, such as by USB cable or Bluetooth, you can simply download the dictionary you want to your computer, copy it to your phone and then open the file, which should then install itself using the Java software built in to your phone. If you don’t have a way of doing this, but you don’t mind paying for data charges to download the files (which vary depending upon your provider), you can use your phone’s web browser to open the website which will allow you to select the dictionary you want and download it directly to your phone.

There are a few options to choose from regarding which file to download, as the author has created different versions of each dictionary depending upon the capabilities of your phone. First, download the smallest MIDP 2.0 version of the dictionary you want and see if it runs on your phone. In addition to the JAR file (a standard Java file type) you may also need the JAD file for it to work on your phone. If it doesn’t work, try the MIDP 1.0 version instead. After you sort that out, choose the file size you want. Obviously, the bigger the file means the more translations the dictionary will have, and the better your chances of finding what you’re looking for, so get the biggest file you can. For a comparison, the smallest English-German MIDP 2.0 dictionary has only 677 translations and is only 64kB in size, while the largest (the “Max” version) has 55,038 translations and is 762kB in size. If you have a newer phone with plenty of free memory, you’re better off with the “Performance” versions, which take up a bit more space (916kB total for the English-German “Max” dictionary) but which are designed for faster responsiveness. If you receive an error when trying to install a one of the larger files, as I did with one of my phones, try going smaller until you find one that works.

Once you have a translation dictionary on your phone, you’ll realize just how handy it is for looking up foreign words. Not only does it not take up any additional space in your pocket or purse, but when you stop to look up a strange word, people will see you and think you’re just reading a text message or looking up a number. Contrast that with standing on the sidewalk looking up a word in a foreign language dictionary, which is almost as bad as standing there with an open map, signaling to everyone that you’re a tourist (and perhaps a potential target).