Overview of the Program
Power Translator 11 Pro Spanish is an elegant program. Elegant because its designers envisioned the sorts of documents and environments that people need to translate. For each type, they created separate platforms for translating HTML (web pages), Word documents, instant messages, or emails.
There is a mode for batch translation (whole files), as well as one for bilingual users to work interactively, translating and editing either source or target text as they compose. The dictionary is more than just one general dictionary and allows for browsing, and it enables users to designate any number of dictionaries for the translation program to consult. Users can create a new dictionaries and build specialized lexicons of their own.
There are some possible connectivity issues due to firewalls and the architecture of the program (discussed elsewhere in this review), but they are not insurmountable. It is a very large program, as it should be, and so even though it takes about an hour to do so, it is easy to install to one’s desktop. There, it is accessed by clicking on one shortcut icon that opens into a ribbon with the various translation modes and a dictionary accessed in turn by clicking on one of the six icons.
The more I worked with this program, the more I liked it. Users need to remember that machine translation is for “dry,” technical, expository texts, particularly where regularity of lexicon is an issue (such as instruction manuals and expository texts). The more nuanced the text or the more complex the sentence structure of the source language, the less effective this, or any other translation software program, will be. With that one bit of advice, from one who has used such programs for over 15 years, it is a great program when used for translating the kind of texts for which it is designed. The developers of this software give tips to users, especially valuable to monolingual ones, who may want to use the program to translate as they compose.
Price to Value (5 out of 5)
Power Translator 11 Pro by Language Engineering Company, Inc. is a very good program for obtaining a rough draft, or trot, of a text with one click of your mouse. For $125, consumers get the online Collins bilingual Spanish-English Dictionary as a basic, general lexicon the program looks to in translating, as well as the ability to make additions by creating auxiliary dictionaries. Users, especially professional translators, will be favorably impressed with the quality of drafts even before making any improvements to the system.
This next observation is not meant to be a critique of the program but a warning to any would-be users: making improvements to any electronic lexicon employed in translation takes time to learn, time to do, and much caution, even from expert translators. The dictionary features are quite impressive right off the shelf. However, since they require considerable patience and expertise to learn to use (and although the help files are very thorough and trustworthy), unless you are not a professional translator, refrain from creating new or modifying existing dictionaries.
User Interface (5 out of 5)
The first great thing about the user interface of Power Translator 11 is that there is an icon called Quick Start, where all the functions of the other icons on the LEC Translate toolbar are summarized. The translation modes include: LEC ClipTrans, LEC FileTrans, LEC LogoTrans, and LEC MirrorTrans. The LEC Dictionary consists of many dictionaries and allows users to create and, for some existing dictionaries, modify the contents. Finally, the help files created for each mode are extensive and clear.
Due to the net-centric nature of the architecture of the software, some firewalls in some institutional settings interfere with using the program, even when not using the Internet translation option. This was very frustrating for a few hours, causing the screens to function only intermittently. However, the problems were resolved with some help from my IT folks and the personal help of the president of Language Engineering Company himself–proof of a very serious commitment to customer satisfaction and confidence in the quality of their software.
Help & Support (5 out of 5)
Language Engineering Company (LEC) provides very responsive online help via email for users of the Pro versions–a minimum two-day turnaround. The premium products, called Translate, have higher levels of support. Since translators work in a world where the sun never sets and due dates and times are often not in the translators’ own time zone, it is almost always a good idea for them to purchase translation software products on the high end. I was exceedingly pleased when, late one evening, I sent an email from the West Coast regarding some temporary connectivity issues and the president of the company himself called me–from Boston–to ensure me that the difficulties were easily overcome. And they were.
Installation & Setup (4 out of 5)
I installed Power Translator 11 Pro Spanish by downloading it. That was easy. Like all good-to-excellent translation software downloads, it took some time–about an hour. All told, the process was uneventful.
Connectivity issues could be an issue, due to the net-centric nature of the software’s architecture. Be prepared to resolve them, particularly if you are operating in an institutional setting, where firewalls can be the problem. They can be solved, despite initial frustration.
Performance (5 out of 5)
Users will be delighted to discover that by clicking on one of the icons in the toolbar designed for translating various types of texts, Power Translator 11 Pro Spanish delivers high-quality, albeit draft, translations of a variety of document types (web pages, instant messages, email, HTML, Word). The quality of the initial output is impressive; even a monolingual English or Spanish speaker will be able to know what the respective source text has to say, permitting such monolingual speakers to determine if they need the help of a professional translator. Professional translators will be impressed with the dictionaries and with the fact that the translation program does not use just one lexicon at a time (a big improvement over programs produced in the past few years). All of the lexicons are “consulted” by the program in producing the draft. And of course, the expert users will be able to create and enhance some of these lexicons.
This is not intended to be a specific critique of this translation software program, but rather an observation that users need to keep in mind. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” applies a hundredfold to translation. The tips given for producing better translation are good ones–but users need to understand that these are aimed at improving the translatability of the source texts. This is only possible if the user is producing them. These tips can be generalized as writing in as plain and concise a manner possible. Translation programs are not good for translating any nuanced text; English-Spanish business correspondence suffers in translation even when done by culturally unskilled humans, so the problems are magnified when a software program is enlisted. Even so, users will be able to get the main ideas from the drafts produced. Monolingual users, though, are advised not to try to write a reply using this, or any other, translation software. That level of communication should be handled by skilled professionals.
Product Features (5 out of 5)
There are five types of texts which the program is designed to translate, accessed by clicking on one of five icons on the toolbar. LEC ClipTrans is the mode to use if users wish to paste in text. Translation happens in seconds after clicking Enter. If users have an existing file, such as a Word document, users need only indicate where the file is to the LEC FileTrans feature and it will do the job in seconds. It produced a draft translation of a 20-page article in less than a minute–and preserved all the formatting.
If users wish to type a source text, perhaps even editing as they go, while monitoring the translation produced seconds later, then they will enjoy using LEC LogoTrans. The translated text can be copied from the window and pasted elsewhere for further work, such as formatting. MirrorTrans delivers translation of web pages by creating a correspondence between this feature and a window to be translated. LEC Dictionary allows users to select which dictionaries the program should consult when producing drafts. The exciting thing about this feature is that the program consults them all, or only the one or ones selected. Finally, there are thorough help files for each mode.
Scalability (5 out of 5)
Any text produced in any of the modes can be copied and pasted elsewhere for post-editing, formatting, transmission via email, instant messaging, or printing.
The Quick Start feature would be enhanced if it included a short help file for each of the modes, enabling users to get started more quickly. The synopsis provided with each tells what type of translation is performed by clicking on each icon, but a short user guide for each would allow users to feel confident more quickly and know that they can begin using the program right away. The ideal thing would be to add simulation tutorials that show users what to do. Still pictures are not quite enough for such a worthy program.
I recommend Power Translator 11 Pro Spanish (or for the other languages) to anyone who regularly requires translations into his or her language but cannot afford to have a professional translator or translators, if multiple languages are involved, who can produce polished translations. I also recommend it to professional translators with the caveat that they consider the wiser purchase of Language Engineering Company’s more advanced and better supported versions called Translate.
Systran, GoldWorld, Jhangduo
Source: Information from author's experience