Partial solution to babel of tongues

A incomprehensible babel of tongues was God's punishment to humans after they arrogantly built a tower to reach the heavens and were then scattered to different parts of the earth.

By
May 24, 2006 08:09
3 minute read.
babel disk 88

babel disk 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Babylon 6, a program downloaded from the Internet from www.babylon.com or www.babylon.co.il (in Hebrew), requires Windows 2000 and up, Internet Explorer 5 and above and 50 MB free disk space on your hard drive. Appropriate for all ages, NIS 299 for a perpetual license and NIS 197 for a upgrade to version 6. Rating: ***** A incomprehensible babel of tongues was God's punishment to humans after they arrogantly built a tower to reach the heavens and were then scattered to different parts of the earth. Babylon is the Israeli-developed program that minimizes the confusion and makes individual words or even long texts in dozens of languages comprehensible with the click of your mouse. Back in 1997, the Or Yehuda company offered computer users a CD-ROM that worked with a Windows 3.x or Windows 95 operating system and translated individual words from one language to another. But the company, the world's leading provider of single-click translation and information access solutions, has since abandoned marketing through stores, switching to online sales. Its user base exceeds 35 million desktop installations, many of them purchased by corporate customers such as Xerox, Ericsson, Fujitsu Siemens and IBM. Nevertheless, home users - even those used to getting things free on the Web - will find many good reasons to pay for the newest version. You can translate words and whole paragraphs at a time between any two of these languages: English, Hebrew, Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, German, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian and Farsi. Since updated words are constantly provided through the company's Web site, you will get new words added to the database without your even knowing it. It also provides 1,200 sources in 50 languages and 25 professional dictionaries in 13 languages developed by Babylon's own linguistic team. Just highlight a word or paragraph, click the right mouse button and press your keyboard's Shift key simultaneously (or choose one of two other combinations) and see a "Babybox" open on your screen. Select the language you want the text translated to, and you will get it in seconds, along with grammatical information, background information from Wikipedia, etymological background from the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, the Oxford Thesaurus and other reference books. You can also purchase add-on premium content from the Britannica and other encyclopedias. An option is to open the Babybox and type in or copy-and-paste text. Just click on any text in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, e-mails, Web pages, instant messages or any other desktop application. The program also instantly converts currencies, measurements and time, and offers tools for finding just the word you need already conjugated correctly. While the program's translation of many texts gives you an accurate sense of what's being said, human translators don't have to worry about losing their jobs. The translation of individual words here is usually quite accurate, but the program's artificial intelligence is not yet good enough to understand and translate full texts perfectly. For example, here's a Babylon translation of the first verse of the Bible's Book of Genesis from Hebrew to English: "In the beginning produced these the heavens and Haaretz and Haaretz was his tea and in the oh and dark over abyss and these wind from hovercraft over the water. And the earth was desolate dark and covered in the water and say these Yhi light Oihi light." Sounds like that babel of tongues after God became angry over the tower.... In its Web site's Frequently Asked Questions section, Babylon concedes that "unfortunately, today's most sophisticated text translation software does not approach the fluency of a native speaker or possess the skill of a professional translator . . . Because of this, accurate translation requires an understanding of the context, as well as an understanding of the structure and rules of the language. While many engineers and linguists are working on the problem, it will be some time before anyone can offer a quick and seamless machine translation experience. In the interim, we hope the service we provide is useful for most purposes." It is!

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