Friday, 14 January 2011

Kompas: Crown Prince of Polish-English Translators

Kompas's Tłumacz i Słownik Języka Angielskiego 7 (link in Polish) is unquestionably the best English Polish translator on the market for anyone like me that wants to produce good English translations from Polish text. I would describe it as uncrowned King, but there are still enough things to be done, for this metaphorical truth to seem a bit too extreme a compliment.

I looked at the Techland rival back in July 1999. Looking back at my comments, I am amused by my attempt to be fair and balanced. Now that I am more used to commenting on the internet, I can more honestly say that Techland's translator is complete and utter rubbish. Do not buy it. If you are given it as a present, ask for the receipt, go back to the shop and buy Kompas instead. If Techland is the full price version, rather than the cut down version, you can add a good Polish-English dictionary as well. You'll probably get change in both cases.

My ire yesterday, however, was directed at the Oxford University Press/ Translatica 7+. I saw this in Empik and it was only slightly more expensive than Kompas, so, since I haven't tried it since the first version came out, I thought I'd buy it. It immediately seemed that this was also a cut down version and absolutely useless for serious translation. With Kompas, I am used to putting in large amounts of text: over 100 pages at times. These cut down versions accept a paper page or two. Internet pages are often longer than this. Fortunatley, however, trying Translatica again today, it is working better and accepts a full amount of text - 26 pages.

Translatica's functionality is still substantially inferior to Kompas. The 2008 accolades of winner in Chip magazine's test of text translation applications and Computer World's highest position amongst English language translation programmes (recorded in Polish on Kompas's box), still hold true.

What I don't understand, is why a superior product such as Kompas is cheapest. I also bought the latest version - Tłumacz i Słownik Języka Angielskiego 7 - to update my version 4. This is on sale in Empik for 89zl (99zl on Kompas's website). Translantica cost 99zl. Techland's wasn't on display, but the cut down version used to be 99zl, whilst the better version I bought back in 1999 cost 140zl (discounted from 180zl, as I recall).

It was worthwhile my updating to Kompas's version 7, however. There are a number of changes, but the most important to me so far has been expansion of the already large dictionary and, although it may seem small to many, the inclusion of a direct link to Wikipedia. For instance, I have been looking at some text on the Lusatian Culture - more to come in the future - and I can immediately go from the translator to find references in Wikipedia such as the Lusatian culture itself and the Trzciniec Culture. Although it doesn't normally work as a one-click find, it does work in both Polish and English Wikis. (Setup and working interface are in English - far superior to Translatica, although most other things are in Polish: it would be good if the context descriptions in the dictionary were translated into English, but I guess that would be major work for something that would have little demand.)

I will still give Translatica a proper test. If I come to any substantially different conclusion, I will comment in a future post. To immediately give some credit to it, however, it does have a large number of useful phrases in it's dictionary that are not in Kompas. However, I might have been better off getting a proper dictionary. It can also translate Gmail, with which Kompas has always had problems and which, because it is on a closed site, Google Translate cannot access. (Techland's dictionary was abysmal.)

I haven't given links to Translatica and Techland on purpose, given my faith in Kompas.


TEFL SecretAgent said...

Great post mate, especially considering that I'm just looking for my first piece of translation software (other than my wife).

Pan Steeva said...

Immediately after writing the post, I had to change it as Translatica was working better today. I maintain my Kompas recommendation, however.