|This article was published on: 02/01/2004|
Web Review: Technology
Need Online Translations? Go Fish
Babel Fish translates your words into other languages to help you more effectively communicate with multicultural clients.
REVIEWED BY CHRISTOPHER M. LEPORINI
Web Site: AltaVista Babel Fish Translation
What the Site Offers
AltaVista Babel Fish Translation provides you with a useful tool to communicate with your non-English speaking or bilingual customers. You can use this site to translate words, phrases, or entire Web sites into 19 pairs of languages, including to and from English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. The site’s World Keyboard allows you to add accented or other special characters to your text for more accurate translations (but this feature is not available to Mac users). Also by adding Babel Fish to your site, your customers can translate your site into their preferred language.
However, the site warns that its translation service is intended to help you or your clients get the general meaning of the original text, but is not intended to produce a polished translation. For important materials, you should consult a professional translator. Also, because Babel Fish is an automated translator, it works best when the text has perfect grammar. If the text contains slang, misspelled words, poorly placed punctuation, or complicated sentence structure, you may not get the most accurate results. There also is a limit on how much you can translate. Babel Fish is designed to translate up to about 800 words or two standard, double-spaced pages (about 5K of text) at a time. If you exceed the limit or if you attempt to translate a very long Web page (over 5K), the site translates up to the limit and then stops.
Another important point to keep in mind is that the test translations we conducted from English to Korean showed that the Babel Fish translation produces familiar, instead of honorific, translations—an important distinction in many Asian languages. Familiar language is what you would use when you’re speaking to close friends or family. However, most business communications should be in honorific language, which uses a more formal form of address and diction to show respect. We believe that translations are most accurate with languages that use the Roman alphabet. Even when you’re able to get a translation from English to an Asian alphabet, we found that you can’t copy the translation into another platform unless you have software that recognizes the non-Roman characters.
Babel Fish is powered by SYSTRAN, a French company specializing in translation technology.
Valuable Site Features for Real Estate Professionals
To add either tool to your Web site, simply click on the “I want this one!” button, which will provide you with the source code to put on your site.
Personal Marketing Tool Kit: Finding Your Niche
Bypass the Competition: Find a Niche, Walter Sanford, August 2002.
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