From VIP Live Wire
Dow Jones Factiva has launched the beta version of a new translation tool. It uses technology from Language Weaver, and as with other automated translation systems, the results are mixed. However, this free service gives a general indication of meaning and will thus open a significant volume of international content to business researchers.
VIP readers will already be aware of the various free online tools for translating text and web pages, including Yahoo's Babelfish and Google Translate. They are useful for getting the sense of source material but still no match for the human translator.
Factiva's tool is a welcome addition, being an integral part of the system, thus saving the researcher time. It allows articles to be machine-translated from seven languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese Traditional, and Chinese Simple) into English as well as English into the same languages. Translation between these languages (i.e., French to Spanish) is not available as yet.
Not all content is available for translation. The Factiva announcement states that 5,800 sources from approximately 360 information providers are currently available including Dow Jones, Interfax, N.C.N. Limited of Xinhua News Agency, Russica-Izvestia Information, South American Business Information and Newsquest Digital Media.
Clicking the Translate Article icon above available articles shows the languages options in a pop-up box. A new window opens to display the translation. At the moment there is no indication from the headings list whether an article can be translated, so users need to open the full article to find out. Changing this would be a useful modification.
Translation programmes are based on different approaches and systems – Babelfish uses SYSTRAN, and Google and Language Weaver have both developed statistically based technology. Looking at some German language examples (into and from English), Factiva's Language Weaver translation gave the gist, but had some difficulties. Users with a high need for such tools may want to compare Babelfish, Google Translate and Language Weaver to see which best fits their needs for international business news.
One should always turn to a professional human translator for mission critical information in a foreign language, however, for those of us who regularly research international markets, free online translation has been an important tool for quickly accessing content. Despite the mixed results, the results can provide key clues for further research. Even Factiva has this warning in place:
"The content of this translation is generated by way of automated translation software and is no substitute for a professional human translator. Only the text from the Dow Jones Factiva service is translated; additional web sources and links to the Internet are not translated as a part of this service. Dow Jones does not take responsibility for the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this translation and the results of this translation are “as is.” Dow Jones makes no representations or warranties of any kind with respect to the translation on this site or its contents and disclaims any liability, loss or damages suffered based on the user’s reliance of any kind or for any purpose with respect to the content of this translation."
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