$99 package can translate 25 languages with aplomb
- By Jason z_rne
- Mar 09, 1998
One of Star Trek's most fascinating devices was the universal translator
that let the crew communicate fluently with alien life forms. Many World Wide Web surfers
today wish they had one for deciphering Web documents in different languages.
Wouldn't it be handy to push a button on your PC and see a rough translation? Language
Force's Universal Translator package makes it almost that easy.
Universal Translator takes a stab at not just one or two languages but 25 of them, from
Eastern and Western Europe and Asia. It does a much better job than the Iris Pen
Translator [GCN, Sept. 15, 1997, Page 48].
The GCN Lab staff lacked the linguistic skills to test all 25 languages, but we did try
translating French, Spanish and Russian. One of the most effective tests was to translate
English into another language, then translate that back into English.
Many translation packages fail this simple two-way test. Universal Translator passed
with flying colors.
Don't be misled by this product's advertising hype, which makes it sound as if it works
within your applications. The documentation makes clear that you must cut and paste
between the source document and the translator application.
Web page translation needs to be a little easier. You must save and copy the page to
the translator and then translate and view it.
If Universal Translator plugged into your browser, you would simply click a mouse to
copy to your hard drive, translate and redisplay the translated page. And you would do the
same thing to publish multilingual pages on a Web site.
Universal Translator is flush with support tools. You get a spell-checker for 23
languages, language tutorials, multilingual keyboard and font support, a .gif file
animator, graphics libraries and Asian-language word processors.
Universal Translator also includes the Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 browser with
language support for viewing non-English Web pages.
The package would be valuable to any user who needs a basic translation tool. Exact
translations, however, still can require human intervention or expensive,
Universal Translator's launcher application loads into the Program Tray on the Windows
When Universal Translator starts up, it shows a Source Box and a Target Box. You
determine the direction of the translation--such as English to Spanish or French to
English--by arranging icons that represent languages as national flags.
You can also look up specific words or phrases. To see the full breadth of languages
you can translate with the package, visit the company's Web site.
Language Force also sells extensions that increase Universal Translator's proficiency
The translations aren't perfect, but they are exceptional considering Universal
Translator's $99 price tag.