Machine translation (summary of results)

Subject: Machine translation (summary of results)
From: "Peter Ring, PRC" <prc -at- PRC -dot- DK>
Date: Thu, 8 Jul 1999 08:49:23 +1

On Fri, 2 Jul 1999 I posted the following to the TECHWR-L:

I have heard a _rumour_, that the European Commission has
made a quite good machine translation software, which is
distributed for free!

If it is true, does anybody know where to get more
information about it? -- and/or where to get it from?

I got a number of answers, most of them pointing at SYSTRAN. I also got
an answer from Dorothy Senez, Systran Helpdesk, via Jeff ALLEN,
Controlled Language Applications Workshop (CLAW) 2000 committee
chairperson & TC-FORUM National Point of Contact (France). Dorothy
Senez's answer is with permission forwarded at the end of this mail.

Thank you VERY much to all the nice persons who has answered.

In short, after having digged a bit further into Dorothy Senez's answer

- there is an online translation engine on,
able to translate "short texts" between English (to/from)
and French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

- Systran offers a limited version "Systran Personal" on
able to translate the same combination of languages.
Systran Personal has a limitation of 5k characters per
batch and costs from 29 to 69 US$.

As my need is most often to/from Danish I can't use it as it is, but I
will test it out at the next suitable occation.

Here follows the full answer from Dorothy Senez, Systran Helpdesk:

------------Start of forwarded message------------

Dear Mr Allen,

Many thanks for your message. There does seem to be a slight
misunderstanding, but I hope I can clear things up. The situation is as
follows. First of all, it is important to distinguish between the
European Commission's version of the Systran machine translation system
and the commercial version. For details of the latter please consult Incidentally, the AltaVista Internet search engine
company and Systran S.A. - the commercial Systran arm - have joined
forces to offer real-time machine translation of web pages via the
Internet. This service is free of charge, with restrictions on the size
of texts (

The Commission has been developing _its_ version of Systran for its own
internal needs over the last twenty years and holds specific, limited
rights to this variety of the system. Access is rectricted to officials
employed by the EU institutions. Hence the Commission's machine
translation system is not available to the general public. Our free-
lance translators, for example, do not have access to EC-Systran. The
Commission's rights do, however, extend to public administrations in
the member states of the European Union. A growing number of such
bodies, including universities, have been expressing interest in using
the system. Any public administration wishing to obtain access should
contact the Commission (SYSTRAN HELPDESK -at- sdt -dot- cec -dot- be). Such applications
will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Access will be authorised
for the specific e-mail addresses from which the machine translation
requests will be sent. If you have any further questions, do not
hestitate to get in touch.

Best regards,
Dorothy Senez
Systran Helpdesk.

------------End of forwarded message-------------

Greetings from Denmark

Peter Ring
PRC (Peter Ring Consultants)
- specialists in user friendly manuals.
prc -at- prc -dot- dk
- the "User Friendly Manuals" website with links, bibliography, list
of prof. associations, and tips for technical writers:
- special software for technical writers:

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