Article by Keith Moffitt, published in The Linguist (Summer 98)
There can be few translators left who have not moved on from the typewriter to the word processor, but how many have made the corresponding leap from a notebook or card index to a computer-based system for recording terminology? Many are aware of powerful translators' aids like Trados, but are put off by the price tag.
Lingo 2.0 was created by Sebastian Abbo, an English software developer with translating experience who now lives in France. Billed as the translator's assistant, it is an affordable Windows application which lets you create bilingual glossaries, and is aimed at both the translator and the language student, coming in at just £35.
Lingo will run alongside any other Windows application in either Windows 3.1 or 95. It comes on a single disk and is easy to install. As the illustration shows, the basic Lingo window can be reduced to a small box that sits in one corner of your screen without obscuring the text window. Larger windows open when you need to consult or add to your Lingo terminology database.
The format is simple, with just three fields: source and target language and comments, and the main functions are "search", "add" and "modify". Glossaries can be created in any pair of languages, e.g. French-English or French-German, and non-Roman fonts (Cyrillic, Greek) are supported. Little used keys like square and curly brackets, as well as the function keys (F1, F2 etc) can be programmed to give accented characters inside Lingo without affecting your normal keyboard.
You can quickly build up glossaries by typing in text or cutting and pasting. Each glossary can contain over 30,000 entries. Once you have a sizeable glossary, a search on a character string such as the French "recherche" will bring up a list of entry containing that string, e.g. including "recherches" and "rechercher". You can then select the entry you need.
Apart from its modest price, the most appealing thing about Lingo is its simplicity: the lack of frills and familiar Windows format mean that most users will get the hang of it in about 30 minutes. There are, however, a couple of useful built in extras. For example, each glossary can be printed out on paper in a very smart format, or exported to a text file, in either case with just a couple of mouse-clicks. There is also a vocabulary test option, which is particularly useful for language learners and interpreters who need to "mug up" before a meeting.
A useful add-on, for an extra £10, is the Microsoft Glossary Converter, which automatically converts the various bilingual glossaries downloadable from the Microsoft website into Lingo format.