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C'est What?

By Rob Pegoraro
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 18, 1997

Of all the Star Trek gadgets I could use in my life-besides the transporter room, of course-the universal translator would be the most useful on a day-to-day basis. This was the gadget that enabled Picard to have fluent conversations with whatever talking lobster he happened to run into. The Logos Dictionary doesn't handle chats in Klingon, but it's a pretty good Earth analogue to the universal translator. The dictionary, the product of an Italian translation company, contains over 5 million entries in 30 languages, including such linguistic niche markets as Basque and Catalan. Type in a word and you'll get a list of equivalents in other languages, including a phrase to put the original word in context. (You can also try entire phrases, but the dictionary is erratic with them-it choked on the French aux armes, citoyens.) And each page includes a form for visitors to submit corrections and additions, a welcoming touch. The listing of results can be confusing, however; translations often appear in groupings that are meant to reflect shades of meaning in other languages, but don't clarify that relationship. A search on "arrow," for instance, yields several screenfuls of information with four listings of the Spanish word, flecha. And sometimes there's just no point in looking up translations. According to this site, "Internet," is spelled, yes, "Internet" in almost every language listed.
Rob Pegoraro <rob@twp.com>

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post

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