Searching in a foreign language? Maybe you need a foreign browser!
If you need to find something on the internet in another language, you can make the task easier by installing a browser that language. Firefox offers about 68 different language versions of their browser that are easily downloadable from http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/all.html. Click the platform (Windows, Mac, Linux) next to the language you want to download. During the installation, be careful to click the correct option if you want that browser to become your default browser or not.
IMPORTANT! You can only have one of EACH brand of browser, so if you install Firefox in French, it will replace the English version. You could, for example, use IE in Russian and Firefox in English and alternate between the two languages.
I did not see any options to download Safari or Chrome in other languages, but it is possible that, during the installation process, it may ask you for the language of the interface. I did test this with the Opera browser and found that I could install Opera by clicking the generic download link and select French as the interface language partway through the installation. Still, it isn’t quite the same as a whole different browser language. See what I mean, below.
Microsoft makes versions of Internet Explorer 9 in 36 specific languages, but these only run on Windows computers that have the appropriate language pack, so they may not work for you. See http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/internet-explorer/downloads/ie-9/worldwide-languages. (I tried very hard to find the language packs but kept finding that they are only available for Windows 7 Ultimate and Enterprise.)
So, why bother to do this? Testing reveals that a truly “foreign language browser” does facilitate browsing in that language. Here are some of the things I tested between French and English:
First, if I use the Google.fr site (the French version of Google) to search for items like “plan metro Paris” (Paris subway map) or “Normandie Omaha Beach,” just about any browser in any language returns nearly the same results – most or all in French. However, when I searched on Google.com (the English/American Google site) for “Normandie Omaha Beach,” I got the following different results from the various browsers:
- IE8 in English suggested I really meant “Normandy Omaha Beach” but when I clicked to keep the original French spelling, the top hit was in German! Only the bottom one on the page was in French, and the rest were in English, most spelled “Normandy.”
- Safari in English also suggested the spelling “Normandy” and returned only items in English with the English spelling even though I insisted on “Normandie.”
- Firefox in French did NOT try to correct my spelling, used “Nomandie” with no problem, and ALL of the results it returned were in French even though I was searching on Google.com!
- Opera with the French interface still suggested I meant “Normandy” and used that spelling to return sites exclusively in English.
BONUS! Firefox does spell check in the browser automatically whereas IE does not, such as when you are typing an e-mail. If you have Firefox in French, it does the spell check in French!