Visit at Lingsoft in Helsinki

On 14 August, I visited Lingsoft Inc in Helsinki. Lingsoft is "a full-service language management company", producing for instance the proofing tools for the Nordic languages and German in Microsoft Office products. Lingsoft is one of the most successful language technology companies, founded in 1986 and working with numerous partners and products. Recent products range from spell checking to language education tools, speech recognition, and translation.

I was invited by the CEO Juhani Reiman and the Senior Advisor Simo Vihjanen to give a presentation of MOLTO's tools and discuss possible collaborations. MOLTO and Lingsoft share the belief in precise linguistic knowledge as a key to successful language processing. Lingsoft has now set up a group to explore the possibilities offered by MOLTO and GF. The focus is on machine-assisted translation for specific domains. I'm very much looking forward to future collaborations, given the rich resources and experience of the company.

Instead of a prepared presentation, I used the demos and documents from the GF website. All typing and clicking was performed by the Lingsoft people themselves, to "prove" that this is not something that only works in the hands of its creators... They started by downloading and installing the GF binary on their Windows laptop. Then we looked at word inflection and clause formation in the Finnish resource grammar (TryFin.gfo) in the GF shell, starting with "talo" ("house"), proceeding to "poika" (which is less regular), then something like "iloinen poika" ("glad boy") in all the 26 forms and finally "nämä iloiset pojat juovat" ("these glad boys drink") in all tenses, polarities, and moods. The immersion in this rather rough technical environment went well, and we then proceeded to more user-friendly material in the web demos and documents. The only problems encountered were the GF_LIB_PATH variable in Windows (which we didn't manage to set), and also the use of the cloud-based translation editor in Windows browsers. I couldn't help so much with Windows, but maybe more testing and/or documentation is needed for this environment, which is not so often used in MOLTO/GF.


GF_LIB_PATH in Windows

You can change and create new environment variables in Windows as explained here. Here's also a picture of how it works in Windows 7 in Finnish language version (click for a bigger version)