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  1. Technology
July 4, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

At their equally-owned pre-competitive co-operative research laboratory in Munich, ICL (UK) Ltd, Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG and Compagnie des Machines Bull SA have co-developed a parallel processing system that translates messages between natural languages as they are being sent between personal computers – but no-one could be traced who could describe the system in more technical detail. It is claimed to be fast enough to translate small, simple messages almost instantly, while 200 pages of text, in most languages, will take 20 minutes. This is a huge improvement on the best current systems that take eight hours to process similar volumes. The new processor also much more adept at handling colloquialisms and context than previous systems – though it is not word perfect yet. So, despite that fact that it is reckoned to operate at half the cost and be 35% faster than human translators it is unlikely, for the moment, to replace them. The system is expected to be commercially available in 1994 or 1995 with simultaneous interpretation the dream goal around for five years time. It is anticipated that the main application for the system will be the translation of technical manuals and papers, an area destined to account for over half of computer translation in the next few years. And, as the Financial Times reports, it could even be used simply for making technical jargon understandable – for interpreting complex legal documents for example.

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