Lost In The Translation

You've got to e-mail a prospect in Paris, but your French doesn't go past eclair. Now there's help from free Web sites www.freetranslation.com and www.systransoft.com. Both offer translations to and from English and French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Italian. Be cautious, though. Despite their claim to interpret language contextually rather than word-for-word, the software often fails on slang and nuance--for instance, the difference between "arms" as weapons and "arms" as limbs. Our tips for users: Keep sentences short and direct. Use first names instead of pronouns, which are often imprecise. Add specifiers where possible, like "military arms," for instance. C'est clair?

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