Ultralingua
For people who love languages
VOLUME 13, NEWSLETTER 5 May 2011
IN THIS ISSUE
Featured Language: Spanish
Interview with Blake Howald
Featured Partner: netTrekker
Tools to Try: Lenguajero
Spotlight: Ultralingua's Number Translator
 
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Featured Language: Spanish

To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we're featuring Spanish with a special discount on select Ultralingua Spanish dictionaries!

Spanish is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world: not only is it the language with the second most native speakers (after Mandarin Chinese), it's also the second most studied language in the world (after English). Whether you're a native Spanish speaker or currently learning the language, we have a dictionary for you. Ultralingua offers a comprehensive monolingual Spanish dictionary and Spanish translation dictionaries from four different languages, including English, French, German, and Portuguese.


Comprehensive Spanish Dictionary by Vox

All of our Spanish dictionaries feature our popular verb conjugation tool, giving you a full list of tenses and forms for thousands of Spanish verbs, and our number translator. Ultralingua for Mac or Windows also includes our flashcard tool, letting you easily build a deck of flashcards to study vocabulary, conjugations, idioms, and more.

Special Discount

For the month of May, all of our Spanish language products for Mac, Windows, Palm OS, and Windows Mobile are 20% off when using coupon code SPANISH20 at checkout. Choose from any of these great dictionaries:

Please note: This offer does not apply to our iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and webOS apps. Discount applies only to applications purchased from ultralingua.com. This offer expires May 31, 2011.

 
Interview with Blake Howald

Linguistics, the study of language, is crucial to the development of any dictionary. Recently, a new field of linguistics has gained increased importance as dictionary technology grows: computational linguistics. Today we're interviewing Ultralingua's new computational linguist, Blake Howald. Read on to learn more about him and his interesting field.

Ultralingua: Could you give us a simple description of what computational linguistics is all about?

Blake Howald: All humans are biologically endowed to acquire a language. Consequently, humans use and understand language automatically. It is an attractive prospect to get computers to do the same — e.g., machine translation, determining semantic and pragmatic meaning from conversations, understanding questions, etc. However, getting computers to use and understand language the same way as humans is a very difficult task. While some aspects of language are straightforward in terms of their logic and structure, lending themselves to computational manipulation, languages are also very complex, nuanced and ambiguous. Computational linguistics, through a number of rule-based and statistical theories and methodologies, often shared with linguistics, mathematics, computer science, and artificial intelligence, seeks ways to model language and develop systems in ways that replicate human performance.

UL: What brought you to Ultralingua?

BH: I met Jeff Ondich (our CTO) in 2009 through a mutual friend at Carleton College and started doing contract work on several dictionaries shortly thereafter. This was a great opportunity to work on some interesting and labor-intensive projects while I finished my dissertation. I was then somehow able to convince Jeff, and the rest of Ultralingua, that it was a good idea to have a computational linguist on staff to complement the development team. At the time, there was no full-time linguist. With myself and Anna Marco-Cortiel coming on board, we now have a growing linguistics team.

UL: How does your work help improve Ultralingua products?

BH: As Ultralingua adapts existing products to more languages (which can vary considerably in terms of their complexity), builds more features into its products (declensions, parsers), and develops new and non-dictionary language products, it is necessary to include more linguistic theory and methods into our current frameworks. For example, I am working on building multilingual corpora, testing and training part-of-speech taggers, and including statistical information to make our systems "smarter" and generalizable to all languages.

UL: What do you like best about working at Ultralingua so far?

BH: Two things — people and projects. First, everyone at Ultralingua, from the interns to the managers to the software and marketing teams, is interesting, intelligent, and highly motivated. This environment makes it easy, exciting and fun to work every day, no matter how challenging the project or how quickly deadlines approach. Second, the types of projects that we work on (development of language products and elements of our application programming interface) are multifaceted and interesting, in terms of both the underlying theories we employ and their ultimate practical applications.

UL: We understand that you're working on getting your PhD; could you tell us something about your dissertation?

BH: When people come together and talk to each other, they share information about things that happened to them, when they happened and where they happened. Broadly speaking, my dissertation focuses on the where (spatial aspects) as part of a larger investigation of the space, time, and event structure of narrative discourses. In particular, I am modeling such structures in information theoretic terms (reduced to bits) to provide a deeper theoretical understanding of linguistic discourse in general and provide useful techniques for computational processing and analyzing the semantics and pragmatics of discourse.

UL: You're about to complete your 4th degree. You're currently teaching at the University of Minnesota. Where do you think academia will take you next?

BH: My primary goal is to develop partnerships between Ultralingua and the larger academic computational linguistics community. This includes increasing Ultralingua's visibility by hosting and participating in conferences and workshops, being a part of joint research endeavors, and working to become an authority in the industry. Personally, I look forward to continuing my own research in information theoretic and mathematical modeling of language, work on an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) project focused on developing standards for computational semantic research and applications, and becoming more involved with SILC (Spatial Intelligence Learning Center).

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We would like to thank Blake for interviewing with us and for all the excellent work he does at Ultralingua. Learn more about everyone here at Ultralingua on our Staff and Editors page.

 
Featured Partner: netTrekker

We're back with Ultralingua Solutions and another Ultralingua Featured Partner. Last month, we featured the Canadian Government’s use of our Grammatica solution in order to address the complexities of a bilingual nation. This month we're shifting our focus to our friend and partner netTrekker, a privately held company that has enjoyed some wonderful success as a top provider for public and private education in the growing field of education technology.

netTrekker has a strong commitment to significantly impact and improve the educational process. With their educational search tool, they provide content directly to students in a safe, relevant, and easy-to-use format, enhancing education with modern technologies. Used by millions of students in thousands of schools worldwide, netTrekker is a leader in digital educational content.

Ultralingua adds the crucial component of dictionary look-ups to netTrekker's extensive learning content. Students gain access to Ultralingua's dictionary resources, tailored for age, as part of a convenient one-click system—definitions are always at hand. And because our content is multilingual, children from many backgrounds can benefit together.

As a results-driven company, netTrekker has a track record of success which continues to fuel their growth. We are proud to partner with netTrekker to help children learn and improve education.

For more information about netTrekker, please visit their website.

Ultralingua Solutions are positioned at the intersection of technology and language. Our mission is to break through language barriers and meet the challenges of an increasingly interconnected world. We accomplish our mission by partnering with innovative companies and organizations that are set to leverage Ultralingua technology and linguistic expertise in exciting new ways. For more information about Ultralingua Solutions and to find out what Ultralingua could do for you, visit our Solutions page, or contact us directly at business@ultralingua.com.

 
Tools to Try: Lenguajero

As part of this month's celebration of the Spanish language, we're featuring Lenguajero, a "free language learning community where people meet to practice conversational Spanish and English."

Lenguajero is based around an active community of English and Spanish speakers, offering tools for improving your abilities in reading, writing, speaking, and listening in either language. After registering for a free account, you can talk with other Lenguajero users through their website or via Skype using your computer’s microphone or webcam. Interacting directly with a native speaker is one of the best ways to practice a language, but often one of the most difficult to organize; Lenguajero makes it easy to connect with native speakers at any time. For users who aren’t able to participate in video chat, Lenguajero also features user-made podcasts in both languages, letting you hear the language as it is spoken by native speakers from the comfort of your own computer.

If you're interested in focusing on your reading and writing, Lenguajero's Writing Club features a wide range of writing prompts in various categories. Write about topics such as your New Year's resolution, gender differences, chocolate, or the last movie you saw—you can even suggest new topics to be added to the site. All entries to the Writing Club are checked for accuracy by fellow Lenguajero users who are native speakers of the language you're writing in.

If you'd like to try Lenguajero for yourself, you can become a member here. You can also follow them on Twitter at @lenguajero.

 
Spotlight: Ultralingua's Number Translator

Gaining a working knowledge of a language involves learning it from many different angles. One crucial aspect of language fluency that is often underemphasized is number translation. While it may be easy to count to ten in a foreign language, it can be much more difficult to construct larger numbers. Enter: Ultralingua's number translator!

Available for nearly every language we offer on all devices*, our number translator is the perfect tool for learning to express numbers in different languages. Featuring search-as-you-type technology, number translations are shown instantly, with the ability to easily switch between languages and no limit to number length.

The ability to translate numbers is vital to communicating in foreign languages. While numerals may suffice in writing, being able to understand and speak numbers aloud in a foreign language is a huge asset to international commerce. When traveling abroad, knowing how numbers are said in the native language will help you express dates and barter with ease. Or, just impress your buddies at Klingon bowling league by declaring your score in the famous alien language!

Our number translator is a feature in most every Ultralingua dictionary*. Has the number translator come in handy for you? Tell us about it on our Facebook page!

*Number translation is not available from Norwegian in our Norwegian-English dictionaries. Search-as-you-type is not available on webOS.

 

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Regards,

Ultralingua, Inc.
www.ultralingua.com
1313 SE 5th Street, Suite 108, Minneapolis, MN, 55414