Subject: RE: Pocket Translators.
Just so I will be clear, I don't rely on mine. I have studied French and Italian, but at my age and with my lack of people to practice with, I am not likely to be proficient in either nor learn languages of other popular non-English speaking tourist destinations. I have been in situations where I had to fumble for a word and the person I was speaking to did not know enough English to understand me. For example, my wife and I had an episode out of a Marx Brothers movie asking our hotel in Livorno (not a popular American tourist site) for a hairdresser, and we kept getting hairnets. The translator I later bought provides words (parucciere, which I probably misspelled, in Italian) at that level of complexity. It will also provide phrases. For example, if you pick a word like stop, it might give you the option to choose from stop sign, cease, etc. It is not intended to do complex translations and makes no claim to process grammar. It basically provides you with words and short expressions which you can try to pronounce or show someone else. However it does so in five languages and is the size of a credit card, not a trivial point if you are traveling throughout Europe and don't want to carry multiple dictionaries). Don't compare it with machine translation, which is designed to process grammar (as awkwardly as it often does it presently). It serves a limited purpose inexpensively and, IHMO is worth checking out.

Ira H. Bernstein, Ph. D. Professor of Psychology UT-Arlington