"When software gets good enough for people to chat or talk on the webin real time in different languages, then we will see a whole newworld appear before us. Scientists, political activists, businessesand many more groups will be able to communicate immediately withouthaving to go through mediators or translators." (Tim McKenna, writerand philosopher, NEF Interview, October 2000)
ble to make cultural exchanges across vast distances and to deepen mutual understanding among people. We have to remember to respect national cultures and social systems."
December 1997 was a turning point for a plurilingual web. AltaVista, a leading search engine, was the first website to launch a free translation software called Babel Fish (or AltaVista Translation), which could translate up to three pages from English into French, German, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish, and vice versa. Non-English- speaking users were thrilled. The software was developed by Systran, a pioneer company specializing in machine translation. Later on, other translation software was developed by Alis Technologies, Globalink, Lernout & Hauspie, Softissimo, Wordfast and Trados, with free and/or paid versions available on the web.
Brian King, director of the WorldWide Language Institute (WWLI), brought up the concept of "linguistic democracy" in September 1998: "Whereas 'mother-tongue education' was deemed a human