Translation software helps football clubs in international transfer deals

Caroline Davis reports on the latest developments in speech recognition and language translation

Caroline Davis reports on the latest developments in speech recognition and language translation

A new global football marketplace will go live at the end of May using machine translation software to attract a worldwide audience.

InterClub is an extranet for football clubs that provides news, noticeboards and a forum for clubs to put up players for transfer. The Web site will use Lernout & Hauspie's (L&H) iTranslator to translate messages between clubs into their native languages.

Nick Abelson, InterClub's director of technology, says, "If a Portuguese speaker in Brazil wants to sell a player to a UK club, we enable them to understand each other simply by clicking on a button."

The site provides a basic level of translation using the L&H technology, explains Abelson. "It's never going to be perfect unless you use a native speaker. But it's a very good option for basic e-mail translation," he says.

InterClub plans to offer a human translation service for members requiring a more complete understanding.

The site will launch with six languages - English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German - although at first it will not be able to translate between every language pair.

InterClub chose machine translation because it helps maintain confidentiality and the high volume of communications needing translating, would have required a large number of people. The site will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week and InterClub felt it would not be cost-effective to have translation staff available full time.

The site itself will not use L&H's iTranslator for labels or text - basic sites will be available in each of the local languages.

Steve McClure, research vice president for the IDC software research group, believes the iTranslator software could prove handy as many Web sites are not yet thinking globally. However, he says, "The quality limits its applications - it can only give the jist. Retailers who have spent money establishing a brand won't want to put up a machine-translated page."

Machine translation


  • Speed - iTranslator claims to get through 5,000 words per minute. Berlitz says a human translator can manage 3,000 words per day

  • Real time - translation can be done at touch of button, rather than waiting for translator to come in. Useful for sites that are updated irregularly or often


  • Human intervention required - machines can only be accurate in spelling, grammar and terminology. A human is required for final polish to ensure sense is unaltered

  • Processing power - requires a lot of memory and processor power. Will improve with hardware developments as well as better software algorithms

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