Auto translating software is ..at the kindest end of the descriptive spectrum .."pure crap" ..and at the other.. 'kin awfull ..and will seriously damage the credibility of the message you wish to convey ..in the eyes of your target audience ..whatever their language may be .
( and the french are probably the most distainfull of auto translated web pages , brochures and product info ..with good reason )
..Mistranslation can cause end users to ruin perfectly good equipment ..( Microsoft windows OS help files ..in whatever flavour of 'doze..in french are a joke ..they fail totally to make the distinction between the "this is not a good idea" and "never ever do the following" ) language is a complex beast ..
Pay for translation ..preferably by someone whose mother tongue is for example english ( if you are starting from your own english text ) and who has lived in your target country for many years ..thus they will understand your original "idiomatic" references and also be able to present them in an acceptable form to the culture in which they live ..
( a japanese or french person ..no matter how many university degrees they may have in english or what their linguistic qualifications may be , will not understand truly the message you wish to convey to their japanese or french audience if they are working from english ..unless they were brought up speaking english ..or have spent at least 10 years in total immersion in the country and it's culture ) ..the same applies to any translation ..to or from any language ..
Some of us know this first hand and see this on a daily basis and have to correct the errors introduced by so called expert academic translators ..n'est ce pas Bill .."we have les tee shirts" ..they are expensive to earn ..so best to avoid the pitfalls ..
As regards the typing in another language using an english or other keyboard ..that is easier ;-)
..all fonts have more than just their 26 letters ( english alphabets ..upper and lower case ) installed there are many other symbols and making certain combinations of touches on the keyboard which can ( when done in the correct sequence ) result in the characters of other languages ( such as the accented characters in french or umlauts in other languages or the copyright symbol etc ) or "special characters" showing in your texts or whatever ..
Depends on your OS? as to what you would need to use to be able to visualse the combinations of touches you would need to use to make certain characters ..in 98 , 98II , NT4 you can use the font thing [members.ozemail.com.au]..( it will show you what to do to get what to appear )nice little app ..no spy ware ..no nasties ..clean as whistle and tiny footprint ..beautifully coded ..respects to Sue ;-)..
Other OS's require other tools or they have them installed already ..explore your help files ..curiousity is good for you ..just always save the registery / data before doing anything really interesting ~;-))
As to switching your keyboards ..usually a bad Idea :((..for example ..I now run seven machines ..and 3 OS's ..98II ..XP pro ..and linux Ubuntu ( badger )..the doze machines are language specific and really dont like it if I switch keyboards on the same machine ..so I have one machine in each OS in french and another in each OS in english each with their respective keyboards ..and this machine "98II" running french OS and french keybord but with english support pack for doze and some of my own tweaks ..even so sometimes "it" this one used for typing here .. doesnt like certain GUI's ( command line "anything" etc is OK as it's always in english..on any machine ..just like flying a plane in international airspace ;-) )..and so I have some dialogues in some app's ..where the "drop downs" are half english / half french ..sometimes in the same column..as are most of my help files!..doesnt phaze me none ..but thats 'cos I dream in 4 known languages ( plus some others that owe much to Mr Leary ) anyway ..
Use the keyboard config that is native to your installed OS ..no matter what you may think that the "language options" may mean in XP ..they dont handle changing your keyboards well ..they can be known to default to wingdings in moments of crisis if you try to install an english keyboard on a french OS ..and vice versa ..probably do the same in japanese or chinese ( Bill may have some stories ;-)?) ..I know that I had untill recently a scanner whose native and only install language was german and which once threw my entire system into chinese when I attempted to give it a "profile" for "white paper" colour ..I dont read mandarin ..nor did my 'doze ..so ( due to lack of "installed supprt for chinese" ) it defaulted to "wingdings" ..FOR EVERYTHING! ..every single app's dialogue box was in wingdings ..taskbar included and all the helpfiles etc for all apps including doze ..
you really do not want that nor anything similar to happen ;-))
( it also reset the refresh rate on the monitor and so all one got on boot was a snowstorm of screen noise and the sound of the HD running the various .ini's to make my ( by then invisible ) desktop with it's taskbar and all text in in 'dings!)
..a friend showed me how to listen to the stages of ones hard drive going through the various stages of boot to my desktop on an identical install on another machine ( one of his spares )and then rerunning that sequence on mine so as to get to the scanner dialogue box and reset the default config and reboot to my own readable desktop ...saved my ass ..now I can do the same by listening to the HD on most any machine ;-))..but it's not good for the nerves when you only have the one machine as I did then ..
This happened 7 years ago ..funny now ..wasn't then ..machines were more expensive ..relatively ..
Only use the language , the apps and the OS's and even the hardware which installs in the language you are fluent in ( my new Epson scanner installs in french only ..with french only help files ..no sweat now ..would have been in 1990 ;-)..pay for the rest ..you dont need the memories ..nor for your pages to be laughed at ( or backed out of and ignored by visitors ) due to bad translation ..machine generated or otherwise ..
Oh ..and unless it's posting in a forum where I only check my spelling / typo's twice ..get your spelling checked ..even that which is translated for you ..all typo's should be intentional to catch semi literate traffic or to catch the eyeballs of the picky reader ..then when they email you to point out your errors ..you just have to convert them
[edited by: Leosghost at 10:06 pm (utc) on Sep. 29, 2006]