Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 150 / MARCH 1993 / PAGE 122

Berlitz Interpreter. (data base of foreign words) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by David Sears

Who can follow in the Renaissance footsteps of those masters of multiple languages, the polyglots? Today, we feel lucky to keep up with all our electronic mail; unfortunately, time for language study remains very hard to find. Still, if you pine for the days of stronger vocabulary and more diverse wordplay, Microlytics has a working solution for you. Its Berlitz Interpreter puts a full 62,500 words at your disposal--50,000 of them in languages you probably don't speak. German, Italian, French, and Spanish--who could wish for a more diverse lexicon?

Invoke the interpreter--which runs equally well from Windows or DOS 5.0's task swapper--and you can issue commands with a few function keys. Say you want to know the Italian word for dog. Select English as the source language, type dog, and you have your translation: cane. You also receive the appropriate words in French (chien), Spanish (perro), and German (Hund), all with their respective genders noted. Lookup times pass without notice; in spite of decompression work, Berlitz Interpreter offers instant results. To make keyboard entry of those pesky alien characters--tildes and umlauts, for example--possible, Berlitz Interpreter allows you to choose them via cursor keys. Once selected, the appropriate character appears on the text entry line.

Berlitz Interpreter installs in less than 1MB of hard drive space, making it a prime candidate for notebook travels. The program even sports a quiz feature. Just choose a source language and type in your best guess for the word that appears. As you build your command of foreign languages, you'll see that they're not quite so foreign anymore (and not quite so enervating as hour-long games of laptop solitaire).

You may also summon the interpreter from within other programs: Lotus Works, Microsoft Works, Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, and WordStar. With helpful Berlitz Interpreter to prod your imagination, love soon turns to amore, and nausea gives way to Ubelkeit. You need hardly stop typing to include these little gems, and your writing--at least your correspondence and your fiction--may profit by your exotic word gathering.

If you've ever studied a second language, chances are that some of that vocabulary remains locked in your memory. Berlitz Interpreter might just jog loose some key words while teaching you more than a few new ones.

For foreign-language first-timers, the sheer volume of available words might overwhelm, presenting choices too sweet. Limpid text files overburdened by inept locutions will surely litter the hard drive. Practice some caution, though, and the glamour passes, replaced by a strong sense of utility. In short, we can all profit from the exposure to new words, and Berlitz Interpreter provides a tireless tutor and worthwhile word fetcher for those of us who use computers.