Saturday, July 13, 2013

In Praise of a Good Product

Disclaimer:  No one is paying me for this though they certainly ought to!

I have a consulting project in Greece, much of which will be done online or by pouring through documents provided by the client or others.  Most of these documents are in Greek, which as William Shakespeare noted, are Greek to me.

Translation is a big problem.  If I have no idea what the document says, I do not know if it is important enough to have it translated, so I need something quick and dirty.  Google Translate works well enough to get the gist of it, though of course agricultural terms are not well translated in many (most) cases.  And it does some languages better than others.

Working with Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish or German documents has not been a problem to date.  Whether the document was in Word, Excel or PDF format, normally, I could cut and paste enough into Google Translate. But it would not work for Greek, pasting from a PDF into GT or into Word.  Some letters came out as little boxes other letters were misread and replaced with a wrong letter, sometimes from another alphabet.  I had all the right fonts but...  Panic.

Kostas and Chrisa are the two people the client has assigned to work with me and emails have been going back and forth since July 1. Three days ago, Chrisa suggested ABBYY FineReader.  What a life saver!

I have used other OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software in the past but  nothing that worked on other than English.  FineReader works in 24 languages and it LOVES Greek.  I can load an 18 page Greek PDF document and in a couple of minutes I have a perfect replica Word Document, complete with pictures, tables, everything. Load that into Google Translate and ipso-presto, it is fully translated for a quick read (but needs a great deal of formatting cleanup to be passable as a document).

Interface Languages
Sometimes a PDF is not created in scannable format or the information might be in image format. No problem. FineReader just read a photo I took in 2007 of a descriptive sign at a 15th century castle in Crimea.  The sign was in Russian but in a minute I had a reasonable English translation.  Good for labeling pictures of the castle to put on-line.  (Someday).

I knew about ABBYY long ago but didn't know they were into OCR.  To me they are Dictionaries.  I have a Russian-Ukrainian-English digital dictionary I bought in 2008 but they have been around for much longer than that and have many languages in some of their dictionaries.

FineReader is an excellent purchase if you do any amount of document scanning and need it in clear clean type face, whether to read in Google Translate or simply to save as  a document.  It works great!!


  1. this post is Greek to me.
    the Ol'Buzzard

    1. That is because you are not, as my sister calls me, an Insulting Agrologist.

  2. It's really fun when you're trying to help out two other people who speak different languages. I was trying to assist some folks during the protests in Turkey with translations. One spoke Dutch and English and the other French and English and there I was trying to translate Turkish to English. No easy task on the fly. I do understand most French but no Dutch or Turkish. Then there's the issue of the new text speak and the informal versions of most languages.

    1. I can do English and read a bit of Russian. Other than that I depend totally on electronics/translators for printed and interpreters for spoken. I have been working through interpreters for 22 years in several languages:Chinese, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Turkish, Farsi, Kazakh, soon Greek. finding those that speak good english is one thing, finding those that speak "Cow" in both languages is the hard part.


Comments are encouraged. But if you include a commercial link, it will be deleted. If you comment anonymously, please use a name or something to identify yourself. Trolls will be deleted