Even the most inexpensive desktop machine translation products can usually provide the gist. The very least expensive (e.g., Systran Personal) require you to copy and paste text into them for translation. Most work with your word processor, and add a translation menu so you can translate text directly. Some can be installed in your web browser and translate web pages as you surf the web. This is important for translating your own HTML pages, as they preserve all the HTML formatting. But beware that they may only be able to translate your web pages that are being served.
The lowest-cost translators have only modest capabilities to recognize and analyze the grammar and syntax of sentences. They are sometimes called Level 1 translators and are little more than word-for-word substitutions. Level 2 can match agreement in case and number. But they are still best used for simple declarative sentences with only one main clause.
|Lernout & Hauspie Power Translator Pro 7 ($150, formerly from Globalink) translates English to and from French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese.|
|LanguageForce Universal Translator 2000 ($150) translates into forty languages (Most at simple word recogniton Level 1, but including twelve languages at Level 2), with software keyboard support for each one. Their GoToWorld browser installs in a web browser to translate and to link to GoToWorld.com, a program that pays people as they surf the web (presumably to gather marketing information).|
|Transparent Language translation products include Easy Translator ($60) and Desktop Translator ($130). Their Transcend series of professional translators costs hundreds of dollars per language pair.|
Translation Experts free online translation service InterTran is offered as a downloadable desktop version that is grammar aware called NeuroTran. The license is $100/year for each bilingual language pair (e.g, English to German and German to English).
Systran Personal Edition is only $49 for the electronic download version with 5 bidirectional language pairs - English to and from French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. A download version of SYSTRAN PROfessional Standard is $350 for the same language pairs. Systran is the technology behind AltaVista babelfish.
At Open Internet Lexicon we used some of these desktop tools to make our first draft translation in each language. We also consulted Babelfish, FreeTranslation.com, and our dictionaries frequently.