A Play on Words

By Willie Schatz, CIO |  Business

ALTHOUGH IT MAY BE THE MOTHER TONGUE for relatively few people on the planet, English has come to dominate the Internet. But that was then. This is now. Overseas World Wide Web users -- accent on the first W, s'il vous plaît -- are proliferating rapidly enough that Computer Economics of Carlsbad, Calif., predicts that by 2005, 57 percent of Internet users will be non-English speakers.

Real-time, on-demand translation of Web documents into other languages has been a fantasy of anyone buying or selling on the Web. Successful translation services will trigger a flood of additional overseas revenues for one-language sites. And a privately held company that sells everything from magazine subscriptions to fishing lures to hunting rifles to deer scent is leading the way.

EBSCO Publishing of Ipswich, Mass., a division of Birmingham, Ala.-based EBSCO Industries, last month unveiled a translate-on-demand feature for articles from 6,300 full-text journals. Think about all the non-English speakers who want an original English document translated into their native tongue.

Inside a Translation Machine

The Challenge: To provide terabytes of technical journal articles to a multilingual customer base without changing its back-end infrastructure or altering other aspects of its customer-facing technologies.
The Solution: Transparent Language's server software package linked to EBSCO's existing infrastructure, based on Microsoft's Windows NT.
The Pioneer: EBSCO Industries of Birmingham, Ala., is a privately held conglomerate that employs 4,000 people in 21 countries. Its EBSCO Publishing unit is located in Ipswich, Mass., and has 350 employees.
Locations: Canada; Taipei, Taiwan; Great Britain; Germany; Australia; the Netherlands and Japan.
The new automatic translation feature will enable Web users to click a "translate" button and have a specified article translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian or Portuguese from English; EBSCO eventually plans to add Chinese, Russian and Japanese to its repertoire. The on-the-fly translation capability is based on software from Transparent Language of Merrimack, N.H., running on a Windows NT server.

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