Vocab FAQ

How does Vocab work?

There's an on-off switch at the top-right of key pages. When you turn Vocab 'on', it activates a script that looks up words on a webpage. When a dictionary match is found, it highlights the word and when you mouse-over that word, the translation is revealed. You can click on the translated word to open that word's dictionary definition page. The code that does the lookup and highlighting was originally written by BBC Cymru's Iwan Standley under GPL. It sits on the BBC server and looks up words in Canolfan Bedwyr's dictionary.

Can we have Vocab on our website?

The BBC is working with Bwrdd yr Iaith Gymraeg on a closed trial release of Vocab whereby a small number of sites offer Vocab. This is a closed trial because:

  1. for security reasons the URL of every website in the trial has to be added to an allowed list of URLs which can access the script on the BBC server.
  2. copyright of the Welsh-English dictionary we use rests with Canolfan Bedwyr. We have permission to use it but not to open it up entirely
  3. our resources are limited

I'm webmaster of a site that's part of your pilot, how do I get Vocab to work on my site?

First, you need confirmation that your website URL has been added to the list of sites allowed to access the code on the BBC server. Then you need to include the following code at the top right-hand-side of every page of your website:

Put this code in the head of your page

<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/vocab/v2/style/vocab.css" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/vocab/v2/style/vocab_external_lt.css" />
<!--[if LT IE 7]><link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/vocab/v2/style/ie6.css" /><![endif]-->
<script type="text/javascript" src="/staticarchive/e277d5e0a8344c1aa46c017511e79c3895657b27.js"></script>

Put this code in the body of your page

<div id="bbcvb_outer">
	<div id="bbcvb">
		<script type="text/javascript">
			if(vocab && vocab.on()) {
				var url = window.location.href.replace(/http:\/\/[^\/]+\.bbc\.co\.uk\/apps\/nr\/vocab\/cy-en\/(.*)/,"http://$1");
				document.write('<span class="title">VOCAB</span><a href="'+url+'" id="vbswitch" class="vbon" title="Turn Off : Troi i Ffwrdd"></a>');
			} else {
				var url=window.location.href;
				if (document.getElementById || document.all) {
					document.write('<span class="title">VOCAB</span><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/apps/nr/vocab/cy-en/'+url+'" id="vbswitch" class="vbswitchoff" title="Turn On : Troi Ymlaen"></a>');
			<span class="title">VOCAB</span>
			<a id="vbswitch" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymru/vocab/"></a>
		<a lang="en" class="question" href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymru/vocab/" title="Help / Cymorth"><span class="hide">Help / Cymorth </span> </a>

For the sake of clarity to users, turning Vocab on in a non-BBC website means a footer is added to the page. As well as offering users another way to switch off Vocab, this gives credit to Vocab's producer and partner, for contractual reasons.

Are there alternatives to Vocab out there?

Not quite the same in the Welsh/English field as far as we know yet. There's an open source Welsh-English translator called apertium-cy at www.cymraeg.org.uk The team that works on that is also developing an application similar to Vocab using open source code and dictionary. We'll add a link to that if it get released.

Google also now offers a machine translation service that can translate whole pages from Welsh to English fairly well - take a look at the Google Translate version of BBC Cymru's homepage.


BBC Vocab is a programme devised by BBC Wales's New Media Department, and the BBC holds the copyright. Financial assistance been received from the Welsh Language Board. The vocabulary used in the programme is based on a dictionary developed by Canolfan Bedwyr , Bangor University.

If you have any queries about BBC Vocab, please contact us here: cymru@bbc.co.uk

Llywio drwy’r BBC

BBC © 2014 Nid yw'r BBC yn gyfrifol am gynnwys safleoedd allanol.

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