News Column

English-Spanish Made Easy

June 2002, HISPANIC BUSINESS magazine

Alexandra Salas Rojas

In a global marketplace, fluent communicators hold the advantage. Enter Word Magic Software Inc., a developer of English-Spanish translation and communication software. While the corner computer store is glutted with translation programs, many still employ a literal, word-for-word approach to language. And in today’s Web-connected consumer marketplace, that’s not the ticket! (Or, as Word Magic translates it, ¡Eso no es lo que se necesita!)

“This software is specialized in English and Spanish, and it has cornered the marketplace,” explains Maria Bacallao of Anthony Baradat Iglesias Advertising & Public Relations, the U.S. agency for Costa Rica–based Word Magic. “There is no other software that can come close to the degree of precision and efficiency.”

The software boasts the most powerful “parser,” or grammatical analyzer, on the market. It utilizes more than 2 million “mark-ups,” special coding that allows the software to interpret the use of a word or phrase on the basis of fixed grammatical structures such as idiomatic phrases, semantic sensitivities, or common use.

It also features a translation dictionary with 10 million pieces of information about synonyms, verb conjugations, and spell checks. The full database includes 800,000 trans-lation references, 225,000 idiomatic expressions, and 4 million synonyms.

The program also offers three field-specific dictionaries to process jargon in the legal, business and finance, and information technology industries.

While Word Magic does not comprehensively identify street argot such as “the bomb” or “whazzup,” it’s pretty current with mainstream colloquial and idiomatic expressions. The programmers have developed a toolbox of words for the emerging Internet economy, from static terms such as Web site (sitio Web) to complex phrases such as “the e-business info was e-mailed” (el e-negocio info e-fue enviado).

Word Magic definitely gives users a head start, but some language proficiency is needed for minor cleanup. Line editing is necessary to avoid a few literal translations that escape even Word Magic. For example, when it was put to work on a magazine article about insurance, it translated “policy” as “política,” which is more appropriate for principle (as in government policy), rather than “poliza,” which refers to insurance.

Later, when processing a product warranty, it began with the text: “Your benefits include … complete parts and labor coverage, unlimited service calls, and express pick-up and delivery.” The straight translation was: “Sus prestaciones incluyen … el servicio ilimitado llama, mande por vía urgente, camioneta y entrega.” After a little tweaking, the final version read: “Sus beneficios incluyen … proteccíon completa para partes y mano de obra, visitas de servicio ilimitado, y recollecíon y entrega.”

Some confusion occurs in selecting tense, sentence construction, and syntax as well as prepositions such as “by,” “for,” or “from” (in both Spanish to English and English to Spanish). But the software does enable the user to double-check grammar and offers revision possibilities. The Word Magic dictionary also is a big assist, and finding suitable word replacement is quick and easy.

“Word Magic software increases the rate at which business can be conducted across language boundaries,” says Ricardo Arguello, CEO of the company. “In today’s business climate, ensuring timely yet accurate communication is not only essential but non-negotiable.”

“Word Magic levels the playing field,” affirms Ms. Bacallao. “It goes by traditional Spanish. It tries to mold [regional and country-specific expressions] into Castilian, the formal Spanish. Depending on the type of street talk, you’d find it here. For example, the expression ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ is not translated literally to ‘está lloviendo gatos y perros,’ she says, “but rather the correct translation Word Magic will provide is ‘llueve a cantaros.’”

The full-strength Word Magic Professional Suite 3.0 deluxe edition sells for $999. Standard and beginner’s versions cost less, down to a simple point-and-click word translator for only $60. Purchase Word Magic directly from the company at its sitio Web

Source: HISPANIC BUSINESS magazine

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