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Web becoming multilingual

DynaLab has developed an application that converts Web pages, email, and documents into Asian languages.

In an effort to break the English barrier on the World Wide Web, font developer DynaLab has developed an application that converts HTML pages, email, and documents into Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Called AsiaSurf, the application allows users to print documents in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, while operating under a different language version of Windows. Text can also be converted between simplifed and traditional Chinese.

AsiaSurf supports 2-byte language encoding, a hitherto obstacle that had been the main reason that Asian characters have been incompatible with English-based operating systems and platforms. The characters of the Asian languages are based on ideographs that represent words. ASCII, the English-language standard, recognizes 127 characters and can be handled in 1 byte per character, but that won't accommodate traditional Chinese, which has more than 13,000 characters and requires 2 bytes.

Japan has a localized operating system called Japanese Windows 95, but very few people in the United States install those systems on their machines, according to Bruce Liu, vice president of marketing for DynaLab.

Liu said the product is targeted to people living in the United States who speak Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese. "The World Wide Web is truly a worldwide event, and it's a pity if people can't reach all the information out there," Liu said.

AsiaSurf is available for a suggested retail price of $89. The application enables Micorosft Word documents and Netscape, Mosaic, Microsoft Explorer browsers to become multilingual.