AltaVista Debuts Translation Service
From The Search Engine Report
Jan. 9, 1998
AltaVista unveiled the beta test of its new web page translation service on Dec. 9, produced in partnership with translation software maker SYSTRAN.
The service is useful in two ways: as a standalone page translator or to translate pages found during search results.
As a standalone service, AtlaVista Translations allows you to input the address of any web page and have that page translated from English to French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. Translation from these languages to English is also possible.
You can also insert any copy directly into the translation box and receive a translation.
In the main AltaVista search service, results are displayed with the word "translate" at the end of each listing. Selecting the word forwards the URL to the translation page, where you select your desired language. The page is then translated.
Translations are done automatically, by machine. The project is known internally as Babelfish, a reference from "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Babel fish were small fish that were put in the ear to provide instant translation of unknown languages.
Don't expect the translations to match those done professionally, and it sometimes has trouble with long documents. However, there's no doubt the service will be useful, even if the translations are not 100% perfect.
Besides, you can have fun translating a phrase and retranslating, such as the "torture test" featured in the last issue of Tasty Bits from the Technology Front:
English: Go stick your head in a pig.
Spanish: Va el palillo su cabeza en un cerdo.
English: Its head in a pig goes the small stick.
AltaVista even suggests a few other things to do on its tips page, if straight translation isn't entertaining enough.
AltaVista Translations: Standalone Service
AltaVista Translation Tips
Tasty Bits From The Technology Front
AtlaVista Subject Search