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Web Translator Is Quite Not Perfect Yet

In matters of diplomacy, the U.S. is the world's sole superpower, wielding more influence than any other nation. But that's nothing compared with the American influence in cyberspace.

On the Internet's World Wide Web, America rules — and so does the English language. While figures are hard to come by,it seems clear that most of the content of the Web today is from the U.S. When you add in the Web content provided by other English-speaking nations, the dominance of English is overwhelming. Even many of the Web sites published in non-English-speaking lands are produced in English.

Ironically, the Web itself was invented in Switzerland (though the Internet was a U.S. innovation). But there are many more people with computers in America, and many more of those machines are linked to the Internet than are computers anywhere else. As of today, if you don't read English, you miss nearly everything on the Web.

Words for the Wise

Technology is attempting to the rescue of many non-English-speaking people. A new software product for Windows called Web Translator, from Globalink Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia, promises to rapidly translate English-language Web pages into French, Spanish or German. You just click on a button labeled "translate" and Web Translator grabs the page from the Netscape Navigator Web browser, renders it in one of the three languages in less than a minute and displays the translation in Navigator, with all graphics and links intact.

Web Translator also works in reverse. Following the same process, it will take a Web page that's in French, Spanish or German, and turn it into English. That will help English speakers catch up with the fast-growing number of Web sites in those tongues.

Globalink's product is fundamentally different from similar-sounding Web software, such as Accent Software's highly regarded Internet with an Accent program. These programs merely let your PC view Web sites written in foreign alphabets. They don't attempt translation. And, after trying out Web Translator for a few days, I can understand why.

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