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Commercial Development

The METAL System

Tommy Loomis

My personal involvement with METAL started in 1987 and continued full time until 2001. During that period, I was the C++ software developer for what became known as the METAL Kernel, the [linguistic] software part of what was the translation system as opposed to the text processing and distributed processing components.

In 1995 Siemens [sold METAL to] Gessellschaft für Multilinguale Systeme (GMS). In 1996, GMS released the [German to & from English] system as a PC tool which was marketed and sold as T1. From then until 2001, the system developed into various levels of products aimed at market segments from the casual PC user all the way up to corporate translation departments. The people primarily responsible for managing this development were Dr. Ulrike Bernardi and Peer van Driesten.

To my mind, the really interesting work on METAL did not start until after 1996. GMS, which later became Lernout & Hauspie and then [after the scandal and collapse of L&H] SAIL Labs, started a linguistic development office in Barcelona. At its height, this office employed nearly 75 people working on grammars and lexicons. The office was originally headed by Begonia Navarrette... In addition to Begonia, there were several key people including Albert Llorens...

After the release of the first PC system [in 1996], it was clear that a lot of work needed to be done if we were to develop a truly multilingual system. The folks in Barcelona did an amazing job of organizing the grammars and lexicons to support modularity not just for analysis, but also for generation and even transfer. Over a period of 2-3 years they re-worked, redeveloped, and standardized all of the languages in the system with an eye towards being able to reduce development costs of new languages... This group ultimately developed grammars and lexicons for English, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Italian, and Catalan. A separate group based in Berlin developed what was probably the best language pair of the entire system, Russian to & from German.

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  • Linguistics Research Center

    University of Texas at Austin
    PCL 5.556
    Mailcode S5490
    Austin, Texas 78712