LINGUIST List 6.1151

Thu Aug 24 1995

Sum: German/English translation software

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1. , Sum: German/English translation software

Message 1: Sum: German/English translation software

Date: Thu, 24 Aug 1995 11:36:37 Sum: German/English translation software
From: <>
Subject: Sum: German/English translation software

A little while ago I posted a query about peoples's experience with Power
Translator (Professional) software for German-English translation. Here is
my colleague's summary of responses via this and other lists.

1. a second hand comment that someone working in Art History had
found it unsatisfactory
2. another said that the Canadian government uses the Power
Professional (French) programme for translation work
3. another said that the French version gave quite comical or
incomprehensible results, but this was on the basic version, not the
professional. One conspicuous difficulty was with words which can
have the same form as different parts of speech (eg gerunds); another
was variant word order.
4. someone said (another second hand comment) that it was "ok for the
first cut".
5. a response from the correspondent of an owner of the basic German
programme who sent some samples with commentary, showing that as long
as you knew both languages and edited the text during translation the
results could be satisfactory, but whether the degree of efficiency
offsets the time taken to use the programme was not apparent. This
correspondent referred to it as a "toy".
6. a response from an academic who worked on the IBM translation
product who referred to a German computer journal which rated the IBM
programme slightly better (and cheaper) than the Power Professional.
The reference is _DOS die PC Zeitschrift_ 8 '95 pp128-132.

It is apparent that simple constructions and explicit
vocabulary translate more accurately than the complex and allusive,
so the satisfaction given will depend very much on the nature of the
task and the needs or expectations of the user. For scanning large
volumes of print to ascertain the general subject matter these
programmes are probably quite satisfactory; for accurate
translations, interactive operation by a translation-competent person
would seem to be necessary. I have not yet decided to buy one of
these programmes: I await a sales person who is prepared to run the
risk of a trial translation on text supplied by me.
No satisfied user came forward.

Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy
Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800,
Christchurch, New Zealand
Phone +64-3-364 2211; home phone +64-3-355 5108
Fax +64-3-364 2065
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