The most obvious argument for the use of translation software is the proliferation of the World Wide Web. Though we often refer to it as the "Web," the "World Wide" should not be ignored. The Web has opened up a whole new avenue for individuals and companies to share information. It's a place to meet contacts, develop sources, conduct research and sell your products or services. For the purpose of browsing the Web alone, you should invest in one of the incredibly affordable Web translation programs now on the market. Globalink's Power Translator ($149) or Transparent Language's Easy Translator ($49) are the most common choices.
These programs all work in a similar manner, adding toolbars to your Web browser and, with the click of a button, allowing you to change the basic text into the language you prefer (graphic-based text will not be changed). Don't expect translations that your high school language teacher would be proud of, however. Instead, these aids will give you the gist of the Web site you're viewing and enable you to decipher the information at hand.
Of course, your need to communicate with others goes far beyond the viewing of foreign Web sites in your native language. Because of this, these programs offer the ability to translate e-mail messages and word-processing documents, and even enable live, real-time translation for use in online chat rooms.
Easy Translator lets you translate text to and from English, Spanish, French and German. In addition, you can perform English to Italian and English to Portuguese translations. Easy Translator works within Microsoft Word 97 and Corel WordPerfect 8, and will integrate with Netscape Navigator 3.0 and Internet Explorer 3.0 and 4.0. The Easy Translator Notepad lets you cut and paste translated text to other applications.
For more intricate projects, you'll want to employ Globalink's Power Translator. Power Translator includes Globalink's proprietary Barcelona technology to facilitate full-sentence translation of text and recognition of grammar rules and syntax. This product is compatible with other applications, including most e-mail programs and virtually any version of Netscape Navigator or Internet Explorer you may be using. In addition, Globalink comes with a customizable dictionary that allows you to add terms and phrases that are applicable to your industry or personal needs. You can also purchase one of the 31 industry-specific, modular dictionaries (legal, business, finance or computer, for example).
If you have more serious translation needs, you may want to indulge in Systran Software's Systran Professional ($995). This product boasts the most accurate translations and is able to retain original document layouts, text highlighting, font styles and more. For just $69 ($49 if you download it from the Web), you can try the much less advanced Systran Personal. This program works within a clipboard format and will translate up to 5K of text at one time.