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Friday, May 22, 2015

L&H Power Translator Pro 6.43


English to/from French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Windows 95/98/NT 4.0. Lernout & Hauspie. $149.95.

Good personal translation software gets better

Over the years, a number of applications, such as PageMaker and QuarkXpress in desktop publishing, WordPerfect in word processing and Excel in spreadsheets, have become synonymous with their functions. In the realm of personal translation software, one of these applications is Power Translator. Globalink, the original developer of Power Translator, was acquired by translation software giant Lernout & Hauspie, which repackaged this application as Power Translator Pro.

In many cases, a buyout like this often means that a program suffers and becomes a pale imitation of itself. This is one case in which that did not happen. Power Translator Pro expands on the power of its predecessor while retaining its ease of use. Simply put, Power Translator Pro is probably the only translation software most people will ever need for the language pairs it covers.

Using Power Translator Pro is easy; you simply point and click. You only have to open a file in the program, choose a language pair to translate between and then click a button. The number of language pairs is limited. You can only translate between English and French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. While this is often enough for most purposes, modules for other European languages would be welcome.

Keeping with the theme of simplicity, there are three translation options. Document instantly translates the entire document; Selection only translates highlighted text; and Interactive combines the other two options with the ability to choose the proper word for the context. When you find the correct word, click and it is added to the document. While the Document and Selection options provide you with a quick and sometimes dirty translation, the Interactive mode allows anyone with a good knowledge of both the source and the target language to produce a more accurate translation on the first pass.

Unlike many competing programs, Power Translator Pro supports more than Plain Text files. You can also open RTF and HTML files in the application. There is only one drawback: the files do not retain any of their formatting after translation. Be prepared to put in a bit of work in order to make your translated documents look like the originals.

You can translate documents without pulling them into Power Translator Pro. This saves time and retains the formatting of the document.

In its literature, Lernout & Hauspie makes no bones about the quality of the output Power Translator Pro generates — “draft-quality, grammatically correct translations of letters, reports, e-mail, and Web pages.” Several of the documents I translated were my own writing. In many cases, I wrote in an informal and somewhat jokey style. As can be expected, these documents did not translate as well as the business and technical writing samples I used. While the latter types of documents did translate well, Power Translator Pro had some difficulty with a number of technical words and concepts. You can remedy this problem by purchasing additional dictionaries. In all but a few instances I was able to understand the output, although sometimes I had to concentrate. Using the Inflections tool helped me to quickly smooth out some of the problems. The Inflections tool displays various grammatical forms of a word in both the source and target languages. With it, I was able to pick out the right word in the proper context.

The Inflections tool helps you find the proper form of a word

Power Translator Pro is one of the few applications whose documentation offers practical information on improving the accuracy of translations. This advice ranges from not using idioms to putting accents in their proper places. This not only improves translation quality, but also saves time when editing a translated document.

Another aid is the ability to set options that specify the gender of a document’s author and a level of politeness ranging from formal to familiar. Doing this gives the translation engine much more to work with, and I found that it helps improve the results almost as much as following the translation tips.

But Power Translator Pro is just the core application of a translation suite. There are several other, smaller programs. Some of these, like the utilities to import dictionaries from older Globalink applications, you will probably never use; others you will find indispensable.

Web Translator is one of those applications. As its name suggests, Web Translator is designed to translate the content of Web pages. I reviewed an earlier version of Web Translator in MultiLingual Computing & Technology #14 Volume 8 Issue 3 and was fairly impressed. Lernout & Hauspie seems to have improved upon it somewhat, while retaining Web Translator’s ease of use. To use Web Translator, you open a Web page in your browser and click the Translate button. After a few seconds, the program displays the page in the target language. The translated pages retain all links, graphics and formatting. Of course, the graphics are not translated. Web Translator still suffers from the problem of distinguishing pronouns, confusing he with it, but it can now handle frame pages and tables quite well. My only complaint is that Web Translator only works with Netscape Navigator/Communicator and Internet Explorer.

An on-line form translated into Spanish using Web Translator

Another useful application is the Conversation Utility. This tool acts like the Berlitz phrase books with which you can communicate by pointing at phrases. But instead of pointing at a limited number of phrases for a limited number of situations, you type whatever you want to say, and the Conversation Utility automatically translates it. I tested by “chatting” with a German-speaking friend and found the translations to be rough but fairly easy to understand. If Power Translator Pro were fully Web-enabled, the Conversation Utility would be perfect for on-line meetings and for use over IRC.

Power Translator Pro adds a Translate menu to Word and WordPerfect which allows you to translate documents without pulling them into Power Translator Pro. But what if you want to translate a document within another application? That's where the Translation Utility comes in. The Translation Utility was designed to translate e-mail within Eudora and Outlook, and it does that quite well. However, I was able to translate text within a number of other non-e-mail applications as well, including FrameMaker and Acrobat Exchange. When you start it, the Translation Utility is an icon that floats on any program's title bar. With a click, you can translate an entire document or just selected text. You have full control over the language pairs to translate between, and the completed translation appears in a new window.

Power Translator Pro packs a surprising amount of power, as much as other applications that cost far more. And although the full installation takes up 82 megabytes of hard drive space, Power Translator Pro is in no way bloated. It runs quickly and smoothly, and fulfills its purpose quite nicely.

For its price and because of its functionality and flexibility, Power Translator Pro is the perfect translation software for personal or business use. globe.gif

—Scott Nesbitt

This article reprinted from #28 Volume 10 Issue 6 of MultiLingual Computing & Technology published by MultiLingual Computing, Inc., 319 North First Ave., Sandpoint, Idaho, USA, 208-263-8178, Fax: 208-263-6310.

December/January, 1999