Entente!

Welcome to our web page. Entente is a set of programs for live, two-way, conversational translation between any pair of fourteen languages.

On this page you can...


Entente in 200 Words:

NEW LANGUAGE TRANSLATOR PROGRAM
for DOS PC's and HP 100/200 Palmtops

The Entente Translator works accurately between any pair of fourteen languages covering most of the Earth. Entente (ahn-TAHNT, French for "Understanding") is a new kind of translator, not for documents but for conversation.

Entente is meant to help people get around in foreign countries; to converse, and ask questions, and get understandable replies. Entente is different from ordinary document translators in several ways. Most programs try to guess the meanings of ambiguous words, but Entente asks instead. (The user types I LIKE... and it beeps and asks LIKE in which sense? 1. I like candy. 2. Jim is like Jane. The user knows what he means, types a "1", and the computer makes the right translation .)

Unlike phrase translators, which cover only a few stock situations, Entente lets the user say anything he wants. The user can print the translations for informal letters, or send them as e-mail.

There are limitations -- the program will not translate foreign documents, has only a small-but-adequate 3500 word vocabulary, and relies on the intelligence of people to compensate for its minimal grammar. It uses neither plurals nor conjugations (e.g.: 3 MAN ROB BANK YESTERDAY) and listeners smile at the grammar, but grasp the meaning very well.

The program is inexpensive, and easy to learn and use -- it takes three minutes to read the rules, and five to work the practice sentences. Yet easy as it is, Entente lets almost everyone on Earth say practically anything to nearly anyone else.

Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Serbo-Croatian.

System Requirements: Windows Vista, XP, NT, 2000, 98 95, 3.1, or DOS 3.0+, 1 Meg RAM and VGA, or HP 100/200 palmtop w/ 1 Meg and Connectivity Pac. Supports all printers for Latin alphabet; Epson 24 pin or compatible (e.g.. CanonBJ200) for other fonts (e.g.. Arabic.)


Information:

Entente Corporation
1441 Mariposa Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302

ramole@aol.com.com


Entente in Detail:

Entente is meant to help people get around in foreign countries; to converse, and ask questions, and get understandable replies. Suppose you're in Hungary, and want to say "Where can I rent an airplane?" You couldn't say this with a phrase book -- they can't be big enough to cover all such situations -- and you'd look silly trying to pantomime it! Yet life is complicated, and to be effective you often have to say such things. With Entente you can say them, and understand the replies, and more. You can say complex things. You can be understood about as well as a third-year language student.

With a 3500 word vocabulary, you can say anything and the foreigner can respond. Laugh at the grammar -- but grasp the meaning every time. And get information you need: English: I WANT TO RENT A BICYCLE . -- to Spanish: YO QUERER ALQUILAR UN BICICLETA. Spanish response: LA TIENDA DE BICICLETA ESTAR CERCA DEL MUSEO DE ARTE. -- to English : THE SHOP OF BICYCLE BE NEAR OF THE MUSEUM OF ART.


Further Details:

Entente does away with many unnecessary aspects of grammar. It uses no plurals -- for we understand "3 MAN" as well as "3 MEN". It uses no tenses or conjugations, for we understand "3 man rob bank yesterday" just as well as "3 men robbed it." It does not rearrange the words of the sentence, for people can do that easily, once they are told about the foreign custom. (Spanish puts the adjective after the noun -- "the car red" instead of "the red car". The instructions tell you about this, and then you can easily understand "I LIKE THE CAR RED BUT NOT THE CAR PURPLE".)

These rules are easy for humans to learn, but very hard for computers. So Entente uses your natural, common-sense language ability in combination with the computer's ability to "memorize" thousands of words, and by this teamwork makes possible universal communication.

Perhaps this sounds confusing, but really it's easy and natural. And rather fun! Here are some examples of real translations:

(Note: Foreign alphabets such as Arabic cannot be shown here, but all foreign characters appear on-screen. All printers print out the Latin alphabet, without accent marks. Epson compatible printers such as the Cannon BJ series print out completely foreign alphabets such as Cyrillic, Arabic, and Hiragana.)

Russian to English: HOW MUCH THIS SHIRT?

Chinese to English (Chinese is always input in "Bopomopho", or alphabetic writing. This is well established on Taiwan, where children learn to read it for six years, before starting the ideograms. It is known to well-educated, recent graduates on the mainland, but is less well learned, rather like the metric system in the U.S.) : I LOVE YOU. YOU WANT GO DANCING AND DRINK BEER TODAY NIGHT?

Hungarian to English: EN SZERET TERMESZET. ITT A SOK HEGY NAGYON SZEP ES MAGAS.

I LOVE ENVIRONMENT. HERE THE MUCH MOUNTAIN IS VERY BEAUTIFUL AND TALL.

German to English: ICH BENOTIGEN EINE SEKRETARIN, DER SCHNELL TIPPEN KONNEN UND UBESSETZEN VON DEUTSCH AUF UNGARISCH.

I NEED A SECRETARY, THAT QUICKLY TYPE CAN AND TRANSLATE FROM GERMAN UPON HUNGARIAN.

Many more examples are included in the manual with the freeware and shareware versions.


The Rules:

We often refer to the simple rules, and claim you can read them in three minutes, and, using the practice sentences included in the manual, be comfortable with them in ten. Then you can translate to thirteen other languages. We say this compares favorably with the four years it take to learn a single language this well. Lest you think we exaggerate and you'll really have to flummox the intransitive gerund, here they are:

TRANSLATOR INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Type in your sentences. If you use an ambiguous word the program beeps and asks which sense you mean (1. I like candy 2. Joe looks like John). Type "1" or "2" and continue.

  2. It translates automatically when you hit the ENTER key. You can then type more sentences. Or you can press the TAB key to switch to foreign input (so the foreigner can reply).

  3. Use only one verb form--the infinitive (as in to walk, to talk, to go, to be) -- but forget the "to". Say: John be tall, he go to Peru, I walk over hill, etc.

  4. Use all singular nouns: 3 MAN ROB BANK YESTERDAY, ALL BABY CRY IN NIGHT, MANY AMERICAN THINK THAT...(you may use WE, THEY or THEM or any other pronoun though).

  5. Do not use possessives--not John's car but car of John. Again you may use the possessive pronouns -- HIS CAR, YOUR CAR, MY CAR or THEIR CAR are all OK. (Note: for Hungarian and some other languages you should say THE JOHN CAR -- check the section on Language Peculiarities.)

  6. Any sentence with PLEASE in it is a polite command, regardless of word order: US YOU GIVE PASSPORT, PLEASE. (In various languages, word order varies, but this rule takes care of that -- for command always say PLEASE).

  7. Any sentence with a question mark is a question, regardless of word order "TIME BE 5:00?" "LIKE WINE YOU?"

  8. Do not use complex, multi-word verbs. I LEAVE FOR CHILE TOMORROW, not "I will leave"," I should have left", "I am leaving", or "Do I leave?" And, "PERHAPS I GO", not "I may go". You may say: I WANT TO GO, I CAN GO, I MUST GO, I SEE HIM GOjust stick to the present tense.

  9. Just after you type a word it doesn't know, the computer emits a low, discreet "click". This feature lets you backspace to correct the spelling, remove the "s" from the end of a word you've accidently pluralized (remember, it doesn't know plurals), or try a similar, perhaps more common word. (Use the back-arrow key above the "ENTER" to backspace. The cursor keys do not work!)

Later, look at the translation. Some of the words may be the same as those you typed. This may be OK--the words may be proper names or you may have said I LIVE IN DENVER and it translated YO VIVIR EN DENVER. DENVER and FRED JONES can't be translated, so unknown words are repeated unchanged. The foreigner can probably read such words with no trouble. (NOTE: For languages such as Arabic that don't use the Latin alphabet you should point to the untranslated word and pronounce it clearly. It may also be helpful to carry a small map, and point to the place.)

But sometimes you'll suspect the word didn't translate because the program didn't know it, and you should try a more common word, or explain it (and when this happens to you, point to the word you don't understand, or ask what it means.)

CAN YOU FLY A GLIDER?
PODER UD VOLER UN GLIDER?
GLIDER MEAN AIRPLANE WITHOUT ENGINE.
GLIDER IMPORTAR AVION SIN MOTOR.

If you've read these rules, you've done most of the work required to use Entente. It's really that simple.


Limits on Document Translating:

You can translate a document from English to foreign by simplifying the ideas and translating in the usual way. But you cannot translate a document from a foreign language you don't know, to English. Here's why:

Suppose you start typing in a foreign document. You type BSZAGY-- and the computer clicks to show it doesn't know the word. Is this because the word is a plural, like GEESE instead of GOOSE? If so, how do you make it singular? Is it because it's a conjugated verb, like WENT instead of GO? If so, how do you make it the infinitive form, as required? Or is BSZAGY an uncommon word, like ORDINARILY, and what would be a more common one, like USUALLY? If you don't know the language your task is impossible.

So you can't translate a document from foreign to English. However, for a foreigner it's easy. The foreigner need not speak a word of English -- you don't need an expensive translator -- he need only speak his own language and be able to read and use the simple rules (and grammatically correct translations of the rules are provided in all languages.) This means practically anyone can translate for you: a secretary, a starving student, even the twelve year old daughter of your foreign friend.

So Entente is some help in this regard, but it still won't let you do the translation. [Document translation programs are available and best for this purpose. Spanish Assistant, German Assistant, etc., priced about $49.95, seem to be pretty good. But all document translators have trouble with ambiguous words because they have to guess the meanings and often guess wrong, producing incomprehensible nonsense like "Attack the battery" (from the input "Charge the battery", wrong sense of "charge" guessed. Of course, "Attack the battery" could even be correct-- maybe someone was ordering the Light Brigade to charge the Russian cannon battery. This shows how hard it is, from the input words, to guess an intended meaning.) Also, document translators require you to write a document, usually with a word processor program, save it, open the translator program, import the document file, and finally do the translation. Which makes them rather poor for spontaneous translations of "Run! Our train leaves in 1 minute!"

But they do have larger vocabularies and are better for documents. You can see a good example free at www.altavista.com . Click "Translate" and type or paste in material for free translation, or type the URL of a foreign web page. Document translators often do a good job but then make funny, fascinating mistakes. They are... interesting.]


NOTES:

Entente is small -- about 300K for the program and one language, and 60K for each additional language.

All versions of Entente translate both ways, say, from English to French and from French to English. Entente translates from English to other languages -- English to French, English to Russian, English to Arabic-- and it lets you add 200 of your own words.

Entente II translates from anything to anything -- Arabic to and from Russian, Korean to Japanese, Polish to Portuguese (and, yes, even from English to other languages). But it does not let you add words, so if your native language is English, plain Entente will be better for you.

The VGA version is not compatible with the HP version -- the font codes are different. HP vocabularies won't work on VGA machines nor vice-versa.

Languages -- vocabularies-- are compatible between Entente and Entente II, provided they're both for VGA or both for the HP.


Still more about Entente:

Please download ENTSPN. Its manual contains example translations, discussions of the Entente rules, sample sessions, tests of Entente against rusty ex-high school students and current college students (it performs about as well as a current third or fourth year A-student. Of course, their grammar is better and they can speak faster than you can type, but the communication ability is the same.)

Besides, you can read the rules and be trying the program within ten minutes, and no amount of reading about a program will tell you as much as actually using it!


Entente Corporation
1441 Mariposa Ave.
Boulder, CO 80302

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