TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Digest May Become Multilinqual

Digest May Become Multilinqual

TELECOM Digest Editor (
Mon, 16 Jan 2006 00:16:44 EST

I have always been inspired by my competitor _Readers Digest_ which
claims to publish in 100 different languages each month, and the
_Christian Science Monitor_ which publishes in almost as many. I know
in the case of Readers Digest at least, they occupy one large printing
machine at Lakeside Press (R.R. Donnelly and Sons) in Chicago some
_28_ days per month, 22-plus hours per day putting their magazine
together. Millions of issues, in god-knows how many languages; get one
issue finished and start on the next one. I have been there and seen
the apparatus they print with, it is quite huge.

And the Monitor, for several years now, satellite-transmitted to
various printing shops around the world, went for several years with
Bruce Sagan in Chicago, publisher of several small publications
including _Hyde Park Herald_, the _Southtown Economist_ and a few
other small, daily/weekly newspapers in that town. And, he printed the
Monitor each day also, but I understand the Chicago Tribune at their
'Freedom Center' on the north side gave the Monitor better terms and
could handle more press runs than Bruce Sagan was giving them, so they
switched over to Freedom Center; and they (Tribune/Freedom Center)
also grabbed the contract for USA Today, so the excess machinery at
Freedom Center now does (in addition to Chicago Tribune) the USA Today
paper and the Christian Science Monitor.

With that thought in mind, that those guys print in various languages
each day, I decided so should TELECOM Digest. I experimented a few
years ago (late 1990's) with the Internet Pioneers web site (now it
is at ) with multiple languages using the
BabelFish translation system but I was not all that impressed with it.
Some of you who tested the foreign language translations of those
pages using BabelFish said the words generally translated okay, but
the _context_ of the words/phrases sometimes left something to be
desired. Plus, when using BabelFish I had to put the code on each page
and users had to specifically request translation on each page, then
it was translation on the fly, not always the best, and it made me
look a bit like an idiot also.

But now I think I have a better translation system. It _is_ a machine
translation, but it tends to look over an entire page and try to make
some sense out of it. It is a system called PROMT, version 7.0. It
comes from a company in St. Petersburg, Russia, and although I still
do not speak any languages except English and Pig-Latin, what I can
make of it is it seems to do a good job. At least if taking away a
URL web site page, looking it over for a couple minutes then returning
it in the desired language is any indication. The PROMT company is
quite interested in teaching people how to read Russian, so Russian is
the default language given when you make a selection from the drop
down FORM on the top page at But you are
free to choose Russian, French, Portugese, Spanish or German as the
language of choice when you make the selection. When you make your
alternate language choice, PROMT 'takes the page away', spends
anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or so (depending on the size of
the URL) looking it over then returns it back to you supposedly
properly translated. It has a hard time (but can sometimes handle)
.jpg files. It cannot handle javascript, _but_ whatever language
you choose, that language remains in effect on all new pages within
the root URL from that point on.

For example, I brought up and converted it
to the various languages, one at a time, sucessfully. Then using the
links on that (translated) page, I moved around to various pages of
my own -- and as long as I linked elsewhere from a (translated) page,
PROMT kept on translating each of those new pages as well. It was
a bit slow; each page had to be taken away, examined, and returned a
few seconds later translated into my language of choice, without me
having to ask it each time to translate something else. To get it to
go back to your native tongue, just close the browser and start over.

I would appreciate all of you (who can speak other languages) to
please look over the PROMT template at our home page and test it out
by moving around to various other pages on our root URL which is and let me know your findings. I would
like to be able to accomodate readers who speak other than English,
or who are more comfortable speaking other languages.

Oh ... 'words' we use in English which have no translation (or an
otherwise out of context translation such as 'Re:') are ignored, and
offset in red. And pages which are 'too long' (for example, some of
the newspapers I put in 'td-extra') it just gives up on, and reports
that they 'timed out before getting translated'. But some of the pages
which seem quite large do make it okay. Play around with it and let me
know. Look in the right hand (sponsors) column at the top on the
digest web site to find the PROMT box for language translation.


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