Hey, Can Anybody Read This?

By Castellucio, Michael | Strategic Finance, July 1999 | Go to article overview

Hey, Can Anybody Read This?


Castellucio, Michael, Strategic Finance


As globalization and the Internet combine to shrink the space between the lines, both longitudinal and latitudinal, the sounds of other languages become more common in our neighborhood. And with the addition of new languages there's a new problem.

Until now, on the Internet at least, if you knew English, you could get by very well. Although only 8% of the world's population are native speakers of English, a majority of 56.5% of Internet users have English as their native language. But that's changing. New Internet users who don't speak English now outnumber new English users, and Dan DePalma, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that due to this growth, "U.S. businesses will have to learn to translate their Web sites and Internet services into other languages." (Global Internet statistics by language are available at www.euromktg.com/globstats.)

Commerce depends on communication, and anything that inhibits the exchange of information is a problem. So what do you do? You can keep a pool of translators to handle e-mail, agreements, contracts, and website content, but that can be very expensive. Nevertheless, if you want to broadcast worldwide, you can no longer rely solely on English.

Why Not Let IBM Do It?

After all, haven't computers done a great job translating foreign currencies? Even the Euro is just another set of routines folded into the program, and as long as the information is updated, the exchanges are just fine. Just teach the same machines to translate the e-mail.

Well, with words there are a couple of extra steps. Computers only understand numbers - when they are handling letters and words they see them as strings of numbers. You can assign a numerical value to a word, give it ASCII equivalents for each letter, and then get the computer to match that number pattern to a stored definition of the word you found in the dictionary. But that's just the beginning.

Let's take the example of teaching a computer first to understand a word in your own language before giving it the foreign equivalent. Take a word as simple as dog. Let's give that the number 8-7-3 for the three letters. Store that in the computer, and now check the dictionary. Four-legged mammal, right? OK, associate that with your number and you're done. Well, not exactly, because to dog is a verb that means to persistently pursue. What numbers do we assign to that dog? Or the investment not worth its price, or the ugly person, or ruin as in going to the dogs? We'll have to enter all of these dogs before we begin to associate them with their foreign equivalents.

That's the first level of problems, and it only deals with word-for-word translations - the poorest and most inaccurate translations. A good translation program will look at the structure of the sentence first in order to determine the use and meaning of the words. On this level things really get confusing.

Numbers are relatively easy to use when plugged into formulas that are based on logic. The rules of language, grammar and usage, usually aren't based on reason but on conventional acceptance. And because many of those choices (where does the verb go, what words can be contractions, which can't) were made too long ago to have been documented, we just memorize the usage and forget the reasons. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hey, Can Anybody Read This?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.