Tuesday, 20th April 2010
Access to foreign language information is improving. Nancy Davis Kho reported earlier this year on Content Globalisation and the growth in the market for outsourced language services (http://digbig.com/5bbktt). In this posting I want to take a brief look at some specific initiatives that have recently come to my attention.
In January I reported the launch of Factiva’s new translation tool, allowing articles to be machine-translated from seven languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese Traditional, and Chinese Simple) into English, and English into the same languages (http://digbig.com/5bbktw). This has now been expanded to Portuguese. As well as opening access to information about Portugal, this should also help English language speakers research Latin America.
For those looking for information on the Arab world, I recently discovered Meedan, a site which aims to create a public forum for English and Arabic speakers to read and debate Middle East news (http://digbig.com/5bbkty). A non-profit organisation, Meedan aims to improve understanding between English-speaking web users and the Middle East.
Everything that appears on meedan.net is mirrored in Arabic and English. Machine Translation is used to translate everything to a basic level, with translators editing material. Whilst the number of stories is low, I found an interesting angle on some recent research, so have flagged this as “one-to-watch”.
Finally, a tool to facilitate electronic communication: Microsoft Office 2010 has extended the translation feature into Outlook 2010. I’ve not yet seen the new feature, however readers can find a good overview in a review on Windows IT Pro at http://digbig.com/5bbkwb. The machine translation is driven by Bing Translator, but by incorporating into Outlook, it will save users time copying and paste text.
Automated translation tools are not perfect but they can quickly provide information professionals access to materials otherwise unavailable. As such I welcome these initiatives and will keep an eye out for more.
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