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
There are three main issues concerning language in the development of the DIAL
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.
- While it has been assumed (at least for purposes of the prototype) that
the DIAL facilities would be created in English, it would be desirable if users
could read them in languages other than English. For example, a Vietnamese user
of DIAL might prefer DIAL pages in poor French than good English. Users in
Latin American countries may prefer to read pages in Spanish or Portuguese.
- There is a need to index accurately for DIAL Index those legal resources
on the web which are not in English.
- There is a need to create multi-lingual embedded searches over DIAL Search
for the DIAL Index, since many of the searchable sites in DIAL Search are not
At the moment there are only a limited range of automated translation
facilities available via the World-Wide-Webhttp://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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
Eurodicautom - http://www2.echo.lu/edic/
First part of Eurodicautom results for a translation of `patent' into all
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.
 - a list of translation services on
Yahoo!, only a few of which are automated via the web.