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I'm looking for a simple application or tool that enables me to quickly translate a selected word (for example when reading a pdf or document).

I know there are several applications that offer translations but I'm rather looking for just a small tool that completely runs in the background and uses the notification system for a quick translation of a selected word when a certain hotkey is pressed.

Especially German - English, English - German would be great.

Thank you very much for your help!

Lots of greetings

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Checkout Stardict

enter image description here

You may find German dictionary from the main site. Or from this

To install stardict, you may install from software center or running this command:

sudo apt-get install stardict

After you install stardict and dictionary click on the setting icon on the bottom and define selection key like the screenshot shows:

enter image description here

Selection translation looks like this on pdf: enter image description here

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Thank you very much for this descriptive and helpful response. It is just what I've been looking for. (As soon as I'm able to upvote I will) :-) – Jonathan W Jan 13 '12 at 21:26

Found that hotkey function in Stardict works quite unreliably in Ubuntu 14.04

Alternative is GoldenDict:
Install via the software center or sudo apt-get install goldendict

Select word -> Ctrl + C + C
(it should be enabled by default, otherwise check "Preferences")

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