[Previous] [Next] [Up] [Title]

4.4. Language(s) used in a world-wide index

Although the use of the English language has tended to dominate the early years of the development of the Internet, this is changing, and there is now a substantial amount of legal material available on the net in many other languages.

There are three main issues concerning language in the development of the DIAL facilities:

The GLIN project has taken the approach of requiring participating countries to prepare abstracts of their laws in English, and the GLIN web service is entirely in English. Project DIAL may require a more flexible and less expensive approach.

At the moment there are only a limited range of automated translation facilities available via the World-Wide-Web[117]http://www.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Companies/Communications_and_Media_Services/Translation_Services/Website_Translation/], but those that do exist are extremely valuable, as discussed below.

4.4.1. Availability of DIAL pages in languages other than English

Human translation into multiple languages of the pages and index entries of the large and continually changing body of information envisaged for Project DIAL is never likely to be feasible, due to the costs involved, the time lag, and the multiplicity of relevant languages. If some form of automated translation can be used to provide a reasonable translation of pages of indexes, search forms and instructions etc, then this is probably the best that can be achieved.

In the Project DIAL prototype, all pages contain a [Translate] button which takes the user to Alta Vista's automated translation service, provided by Systran translation software. Use of the [Translate] button ensures that the Systran page has inserted in it the correct URL for the DIAL page that the user was just viewing (in the example below, the DIAL Index page). The user then only has to select to which language the DIAL page is to be translated, press the `Translate' button, and then be returned to the DIAL page translated into the language of choice.

The resulting translation seems adequate to convey the meaning of most of the items on the page.

The DIAL Index page translated automatically to French by Systran

The Alta Vista/Systran translation facility is at present limited to translations from English to French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, or German, and vice-versa. This translation facility is also only a prototype, and sometimes has inadequate processing power to translate very long pages. It is also not recommended to use it to translate documents with complex grammar, or where accuracy is vital (such as legislation). However, for pages such as menus, or lists of search results, it is usually extremely helpful.

The result for Project DIAL is revolutionary. Instead of being an `English only' facility, DIAL is now effectively available in six of the most pervasive European languages.

4.4.2. Indexing of web pages in languages other than English

For the development of the prototype, at least some assistance in understanding the contents of tables of contents of government, parliamentary and academic sites in non-English-speaking countries was needed, so that legislative resources could be identified and indexed with reasonable accuracy. The Alta Vista/Systran automated translation facility now provides a sufficient level of assistance for this task.

In the long term, the multi-lingual nature of legal materials on the web probably means that co-operation is required between sites of legal indexing expertise in at least major international legal languages such as English, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and German. This issue will be raised in the concluding chapter.

This approach to automated translation seems to suggest that a world-wide index which was constructed cooperatively by various specialists in legal materials in particular languages could be constructed on the basis that each languages documents were indexed in that language, with other users then relying upon the automated translation facility to translate those short indexing items into their language of choice.

4.4.3. Translation of search terms for multi-lingual embedded searches

Although it does not translate web pages, Eurodicautom is an example of a very useful translation facility for translating terms from most European Union languages to other EU languages. It will provide a translation from, say, an English term such as `patent' into its equivalents in ten European languages. This is very helpful for the construction of embedded searches which can find pages containing search terms in numerous languages, as discussed in the next Chapter.

Eurodicautom - http://www2.echo.lu/edic/

First part of Eurodicautom results for a translation of `patent' into all languages

This is only a very small part of the results page. It goes on to give translations for numerous phrases which use `patent', including `term of a patent', `letters patent', `patent attorney' etc.

From the extract shown above, it appears that a search for `patent* or brevet* or octrooi*' should be reasonably effective to find materials in seven European languages for a simple search for material about patents.

[117] - a list of translation services on Yahoo!, only a few of which are automated via the web.

[Previous] [Next] [Up] [Title]