Language Translation Icon

translate icon

We all need a recognized icon to represent “translate this.” We’ve got one for feeds and social bookmarking, but where’s our translate icon? A lot of folks simply use flags, but that’s a bad idea because they’re “nationalistic, and represent ideals, boundaries, and political beliefs, but do not represent a language.”

Joe Lee has developed a few icons for use in the OLPC project, and they look good. The only problem I have with them is in trying to make them work at 16×16 pixels. I developed the icon above (and the 16×16 version) to support the new Bookmark Share (& Translate) feature in bSuite (see it at work). It’s simply a mashup of Joe’s work (this) with the feed icon (there’s an Adobe Illustrator version in the developer pack).

This particular icon has a few problems (it could easily be confused with “reload”), and I’d love to see something better. Any suggestions (that fit a 16 x 16 square)?

10 thoughts on “Language Translation Icon

  1. Wonderful idea! I think the icon might come across a little too feed / computery, Joe Lee’s images have that soft organic quality which relates beautifully translation. I really like the mouth imagery, and without it this might feel like a reload button. Hope that helps.

  2. Pingback: » Language Translation Icon A very good idea.   | by Craig Childs

  3. It’s a nice icon, but do you have a vector version (such as SVG or Adobe Illustrator) for download?

  4. I’ve seen a few similar double arrow “reload” icons used for translate in a Google Images search, but I agree with Lloyd Budd’s points too. I like Joe Lee’s speech bubble logo (Translate_icon5.svg) and I think it looks ok at 16 x 16.

    Onur Cobanli, the language icon is a nice idea, but I think it’s conceptually a bit different to translating. The idea of the language icon as described on your site is a simple icon to signify “choose/select/switch language” or even just “language”. You’d then have a list of the languages to switch to.

    The translate icon however says to me that a computer is going to translate something for me automatically, on demand. It’s probably not going to be as good as a human-translated page.

    Perhaps both icons should have something in common.

    Anyway, Casey Bisson, you didn’t mention the licensing to re-use your design. However, I spotted your Flickr pages say it has a Creative Commons (“Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic”) licence.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maisonbisson/2097427487/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/maisonbisson/2098205368/
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/deed.en_GB

    Sounds good, but some folk might like to use it commercially. Perhaps use the same one as the language icon.

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