We've added Alta Vista's Babel Fish to the CCF site. Using this software, visitors can produce a machine translation, into eight different languages, of the English text on our site. Click on one of the eight banners shown in the Babel Fish box/logo found on the article pages and you'll get a translation of the CCF site in that particular language. It'll give you the general meaning of the English text. Christopher Leporini's web review gives a good description of what Babel Fish does.
As Leporini writes in his review, "Because translating a languages is a complex task, the resulting translation using Babel Fish is not perfect. It is not a polished translation. It is intended to help you get the general meaning of the original English text. For important materials, you should consult a human translator. Also, because Babel Fish is an automated translator, it works best when the text has perfect grammar. Text that contains slang, misspelled words, poorly placed punctuation, or complicated sentence structure, may not yield the most accurate results."
Even though the resulting translation is not perfect, it's a wonderful thing that Alta Vista has done by providing this service free of charge. Our General Manager is from Cuba and know good Spanish when she sees it. When she clicked to translate the CCF site into Spanish shecould see the translation errors were there...but ould also delight in the fact that all the content present in the CCF site was in Spanish and, by reading it, visitors would certainly get the general meaning of the various articles posted to the site.
When using CCF's machine translated text in correspondence, or sending it to someone else, let them know it was produced by a machine translator called Babel Fish. This will avoid embarrassing misunderstandings. We once translated a book from English into Spanish where one chapter title was "The Pastor's Kid," and it talked about the child of a particular minister. The machine translation for this chapter title was "The Pastor's Goat." So if a reliable translation is what you're looking for, make sure you get a human translator to polish the results of the Babel Fish translation.
Leporini also brings out another key aspect of machine translated text, "Another important point to keep in mind is that Babel Fish translation produces familiar, instead of honorific, translations. Familiar language is what you would use when you’re speaking to close friends or family. However, most business communications should be in honorific language, which uses a more formal form of address and diction to show respect."
At their site, under History of Innovation, Alta Vista says, "We are proud of Babel Fish, the Web's first Internet machine translation service that can translate words, phrases or entire Web sites to and from English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian and Russian." We agree they have a lot to be proud of. It's a great service.
It was awesome for us to see Alta Vista's Babel Fish give us a Spanish translation not just of the entire CCF site but also its blog, online store, message board! We commend Alta Vista's efforts at building a global community by offering its Babel Fish software.