For people who love languages
VOLUME 13, NEWSLETTER 8 August 2011
Featured Product: Vox Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary
Ultralingua Launches Mac Version 7.1.10 for OS X Lion
Featured Partner: TextHelp Systems
Meet the Team: Jenn Van Osdel
Spotlight: Flashcards
Tools to Try: Idiomizer
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Featured Product: Vox Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary

Last month, we announced the launch of six (six!) new dictionaries for Mac and iOS. This month, we'd like to feature one of them in depth: the Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary by Vox. With 28,000 entries and 60,000 translations, the Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary is a pocket-style dictionary specially designed by Vox for Spanish speakers learning Italian.

The Vox Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary on iPad

Vox created the dictionary by starting from scratch with a Spanish word list compiled from other bilingual dictionaries of similar size, which was then modified by contributors to include terms specific to Spanish and Italian cultures. Once the Spanish-to-Italian section of the dictionary was complete, the entries were reversed so that Italian definitions became headwords and vice versa. This formed the foundation for the Italian-to-Spanish section, which was then organized, augmented, and corrected for accuracy.

Finally, both sections of the dictionary were filled out with language-specific usage notes and context indicators. Vox Essential Spanish-Italian also includes:

  • Verb conjugation in Spanish and Italian.
  • Examples of "false friends" (similar-sounding words in each language that, contrary to appearance, have different meanings), a very important feature for languages as closely related as Italian and Spanish.
  • Up-to-date neologisms and expressions from the dictionary's revision in 2009.

All together, the Essential Spanish-Italian Dictionary is far more powerful than its size would suggest. It's perfect for beginning learners and useful as a quick reference for travel.


To encourage you to try out Vox Essential Spanish-Italian, we're offering our newsletter subscribers 30% off the Mac desktop version. Just enter coupon code VOXNEWS30 at checkout. Offer valid until August 31st! Remember, this offer is for the Mac version only; it does not apply to the iOS version of Vox Essential Spanish-Italian.

Ultralingua Launches Mac Version 7.1.10 for OS X Lion

On July 20th, Apple launched OS X Lion, its hotly anticipated new desktop operating system. As we hinted in the July newsletter, Mac users have plenty to be excited about: system-wide auto-saving, the new Launchpad interface, improved security and file sharing features, and a whole lot more.

We released an update to our Mac dictionaries, version 7.1.10, right as Apple launched their newest operating system. If you are an Ultralingua for Mac user, your dictionary should prompt you to download the newest version automatically. You can also check for updates by selecting "Check for Updates" from the Ultralingua menu. You should be sure to update your software soon for full compatibility with Mac OS X Lion.

If you have any issues with Ultralingua 7.1.10, please contact us through our e-mail support page.

Featured Partner: TextHelp Systems

This month's featured partner is TextHelp Systems, an award-winning assistive technology software company. TextHelp makes software for people with literacy problems, designed to improve reading, writing, and oral fluency for learners of all ages.

TextHelp uses the the Ultralingua Application Programming Interface (ULAPI) through a web service to enable single-click definitions and translations in their various language products. This allows the user to click on any word on the screen to bring up definitions and translations taken from Ultralingua's extensive dictionary data.

By including the Ultralingua web service in their software, Texthelp ensures that its users—whether they're native English speakers or learning English as a second language—never have to stumble over unfamiliar words. Clear and concise definitions and translations are always just a click away.

Ultralingua is proud to partner with companies dedicated to improving literacy and promoting language-learning. Find out more about TextHelp Systems products at Texthelp.com. For more information about Ultralingua Solutions and to find out what Ultralingua can do for you, visit our Solutions page, or contact us directly at business@ultralingua.com

Meet the Team: Jenn Van Osdel

The Ultralingua team has grown a bit lately, thanks in part to the addition of two new software developers. One of these is Jenn Van Osdel, who’s been working on projects related to the Business-to-Business (B2B) aspect of the company (to get an idea of what B2B is all about at Ultralingua, see the Featured Partner article in this newsletter, or check out our solutions page). She took some time out to answer a few of our questions about how she came to Ultralingua and what she's been up to since she got here.

How did you get interested in software development?

I took my first computer science class my sophomore year because it was required for my math major, and I absolutely loved it! It was problem solving, logic, and creative design all in one cutting-edge area of study. I continued taking classes to work towards a minor, but by my senior year, I realized that software development was exactly where I belonged so I put all of my energy into finishing out the major.

What brought you to Ultralingua?

I stopped by the Ultralingua booth at the Minnesota Liberal Arts Colleges job fair on a whim, and one thing led to another and here I am! I interviewed with several other companies during my job search, but even on my very first visit to Ultralingua, I knew this was where I belonged, and I couldn't be happier with my decision.

What project are you working on now?

Right now I am working on an ULAPI REST interface which will replace our current server interface with a faster, more secure way for our business customers to access our language services such as conjugating and stemming. This interface will allow us to have finer control over access to ULAPI services, which will better allow customers to choose which services they need to develop their software. It will also log all service requests to our database so that we can easily gather usage statistics to provide customer insight and accurate billing.

For the less tech-savvy among us, can you explain more about what ULAPI is and how Utralingua's business partners use it?

The Ultralingua Application Programming Interface (ULAPI) is a language tool framework, or API, that contains essential language tools from number translation to stemming in a multitude of different languages. ULAPI can pluralize the word "cat" in English, conjugate the verb "manger" in French, translate the German word "Apfelbaum" to the English "apple tree", and much more.

Since it is an API, ULAPI is not meant to stand alone but rather to be used as a foundation for other programs and technologies. We use ULAPI in-house to build our own applications, and we also sell it to other businesses for their developers to use to build their own software.

Another way that our business customers can access ULAPI services is through our server interface. This allows businesses to access ULAPI's language tools over the Internet only as needed rather than buying the entire API all at once. For example, a developer at another company may only need to conjugate a certain list of French verbs for a website she's writing. This is a very specific need and having the entire Ultralingua API is unnecessary. So instead, using our server interface, she simply makes a few requests over the Internet to get the conjugations she needs. The business will then be charged only for the information that it actually requested from the server.

So for my first big project at Ultralingua, I am developing a sleeker, faster, more secure server interface for ULAPI to replace the old one to better fit our needs and the needs of our customers.

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

I really like that I'm not just part of the software development team -- I'm part of Ultralingua as a whole. I think it's really interesting to be able to see how the linguistics team, the marketing team, and all of the other different company roles work together to come up with great ideas and great products.

What are you excited about working on/hoping to accomplish in the future here?

I am really looking forward to the ULAPI REST interface launch. I can't wait to see my product in action and start getting responses from our B2B customers. In the future, I hope to work on some B2C [Business-to-Consumer] projects as well, such as applications for our mobile platforms, to get a feel for both sides of software development at Ultralingua.


We'd like to thank Jenn Van Osdel for taking the time to answer our questions. For more about the Ultralingua team, see our Staff & Editors page.

Spotlight: Flashcards

When it comes to building vocabulary in a second language, flashcards are a time-honored tool. And with Ultralingua's flashcard feature, available on all Windows and Mac desktop dictionaries, flashcards are easier to use and more powerful than ever.

With Ultralingua's flashcard tool, you can:

  • Create sets of cards pairing words with translations, verbs with conjugations, or anything else you find helpful.
  • Sort the cards into categories, allowing for multiple separate vocabulary quizzes.
  • Display the cards as a full-screen slideshow.
  • Customize the slideshow to alter when the cards flip over (with a mouse click, or for a tougher challenge, on a time limit).

Watch our flashcard video for a full demonstration of what this tool can do:

The demo features the flashcard tool for Windows dictionaries, but everything shown there works the same way on Mac. The video also says that the auto-complete option is Windows-only, which is no longer the case: auto-complete is available on both Mac and Windows, but only for Ultralingua dictionaries (not Collins brand products). Mac users, however, do get their own exclusive feature: the ability to color-code flashcard decks.

Color-coding flashcards decks on an Ultralingua dictionary for Mac

The flashcard tool is one of the main features that sets Ultralingua's desktop dictionaries apart from our mobile apps. If you've got an Ultralingua dictionary for Mac or Windows, we encourage you to make the most of our flashcard builder, which comes FREE and built-in with your desktop product. And if you don't have one of our desktop dictionaries, be sure to download a free trial of a desktop product of your choice at our website, and take the flashcard tool—as well as the Word Hunt tool, grammar guides, customizable hotkeys, and other desktop-only features—for a spin.

Tools to Try: Idiomizer

One the hardest parts of learning a new language is becoming familiar with that language's idioms (figures of speech). Building a deep arsenal of literal meanings is difficult enough; in order to learn idioms, you have to catch onto all kinds of culture-specific figurative usages.

For example, someone new to English wouldn't be able to figure out what it means to "jump the gun" just by combining the meanings of "jump" and "gun." And context isn't always much help. English has dozens of such idioms in common parlance, and other languages are no different.

Idiomizer aims to make learning and understanding idioms much easier. Using an open-source wiki platform, Idiomizer collects idioms and definitions from its users across more than 40 different languages. The user can select the languages he or she is interested in, then search for idioms alphabetically or by keywords.

Suppose you recently overheard a phrase whose meaning you couldn't figure out, whether in a native language or one you're currently learning. If someone has submitted it to Idiomizer, you'll be able to find information about it ranging from literal translations to equivalent expressions in other languages. For example, search the English "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" and you'll learn a Spanish version, nacer con un pan bajo el brazo (to be born with a bread under the arm).

Like all wikis, Idiomizer is a constant work in progress. And a lot of its features aren't available until you register a free account. On the plus side, registering allows you to make your own contributions and add to this promising linguistic resource.

Check out Idiomizer at Idiomizer.com.


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