European company builds translator into MS Office

SDL International Monday launched a translation toolbar for Microsoft's Office and Outlook software.

The toolbar, which works with Office and Outlook versions 2000, XP and 2003, will translate text on a page without losing formatting, and without the usual small word limit of Web translation services, SDL's Translation Technology Program Manager Steve Westover said.

The service costs US$39.95 per year and offers translation between English, Dutch, French, Italian, German, Norwegian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Instead of leaving Office to paste text into a translation Web site, the user can do it on the fly. They can also choose whether translated text is pasted below the original in an e-mail, or attached as a document, Westover said.

Users to date have mainly come from the general public, Westover said. The company is not targeting any specific industry segments, he said.

Using SDL's free translation on its Web site at http://www.freetranslation.com/, the first sentence of this article becomes, in French, "SDL PLC International a lancé un toolbar de traduction pour le Bureau de la Corp. de Microsoft et le logiciel de Perspective lundi." While perspective software sounds a wonderful thing, sometimes a human translator comes in handy. A link from the toolbar, and from the Web site, gives access to a price quote for professional, human translation services, Westover said. SDL of Maidenhead, England, employs hundreds of translators internationally, he said.

SDL did not work with Microsoft in developing the software, Westover said. Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.

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