By ZAM KARIMbytz@thestar.com.my
A handy tool to have around, even for a native language speaker.
THE why of an e-Dictionary is obvious, so there's no point delving into that. What you need to know is that this is one of the few comprehensive Bahasa Malaysia language suites on the market.
It is a collaboration between Citra Computing Network and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), the 56-year-old institution whose role is to develop and regulate the BM language. DBP is also a book publisher.
Coming back to MyKamus now; it comprises of a Bahasa Malaysia spell checker and dictionary, as well as a Bahasa Malaysia-to-English dictionary.
It can also be used to convert Rumi script to Jawi, the Arabic alphabet for writing the Bahasa Malaysia language. Other features include, a word puzzle game and a collection of past question papers for the national examinations.
Getting started is a snap. It only took a few minutes to install MyKamus. After the installation, we went online to look for updates and found the latest, Version 7.0.348. We were all set after that.
Once installed, MyKamus allows a fast look up for any word, simply by hovering the cursor on top of the word and pressing a combination of the Control key and right mouse button. Or you can type the word into the floating mini MyKamus toolbar on the screen.
This works when you're browsing a website via Internet Explorer. For now, that's the only web browser that MyKamus will work with.
The definition of the words you look up is comprehensive; the same as what you get if you open the paper-based Kamus Dewan dictionary that DBP is famous for. And the English definitions for any BM word is provided by both MyKamus and the prestigious Webster's Dictionary.
You can also translate a whole sentence from English to Bahasa Malaysia and vice versa, but this requires an Internet connection due to the complicated process involved.
We found that this works fairly well; there were some sentences that needed a bit of editing because the meanings were skewed slightly from the original context. Also, MyKamus sometimes translated a proper noun that shouldn't have been translated.
For instance, we translated this sentence: "Mykamus Dewan Pro 7 direka untuk membantu pengguna menguasai bahasa Inggeris melalui terjemahan pantas."
What we got back was: "Mykamus Hall Pro 7 is designed to help users master the English language through the translation speed."
The correct translation would have been: "Mykamus Dewan Pro 7 is designed to help users master the English language through its speedy language translator."
Still, it beats doing the translation manually.
The product integrates well with the Microsoft Office productivity software suite, namely the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.
Whenever any of these are opened, the MyKamus toolbar appears. OpenOffice, the open-source office productivity software suite, is also supported.
Misspelled words will be highlighted with red wavy lines underneath them. You can then click on the "Semak Ejaan BM" icon on the toolbar to correct the spelling.
The toolbar also features BM-to-English and English-to-BM translation options to enable you to quickly translate whole documents. While we found that we still needed to re-check the translated documents for the odd grammatical or spelling errors, MyKamus saved us much time on the whole.
Okay, now we move on to converting Rumi to Jawi. For the uninitiated, Jawi was the standard script for the BM language until replaced by Rumi. But Jawi still has its uses - the script is used in religious texts and for some cultural purposes.
Simply copy the Rumi sentence into MyKamus to get the Jawi translation. The software breaks the sentence into separate words with their Rumi translations, which makes learning or understanding Jawi easy.
You can also request MyKamus to form a whole sentence, which you can then copy and paste into a Word document or e-mail message if you need to.
To make learning fun, the software offers a word puzzle game; from clues you must guess the word by filling each blank with a letter before you run out of time. This is good for improving your vocabulary.
Lastly, there is a software feature that pronounces any word or sentence aloud. Unfortunately, it seems to work better with English words and sentences. To our ears, the BM pronunciations sound like a foreigner is trying to say them.
We found the software to be useful when making translations, as well as when we needed to find the meaning of some obscure BM words.
There is still room for improvement, though, especially with the program's visuals. The user interface is looking a little dated and needs a fresher, more interesting design.
Also, the translation process needs to be speeded up; translated sentences sometimes take a long time to appear.
On the plus side, with MyKamus you get the electronic version of Kamus Dewan with its accurate and up-to-date definitions, and more features than is possible with a printed dictionary.
So while the asking price of RM150 may seem high at first, the extra features you get with this software help even that out. Also, keep in mind that hiring someone to do piecemeal translation work will definitely cost more than that.
Pros: Easy to use; integrates well with Microsoft Office and Open Office; does Rumi to Jawi translations; offers Kamus Dewan definitions; fun word puzzle game.
Cons: User Interface looking dated; some wonky translations sometimes.
MYKAMUS DEWAN PRO v7
(Citra Computing Network)
Bahasa Malaysia e-Dictionary
SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS: Windows XP or higher, 200MB hard disk space, CD drive
RATING: 3.5 stars
Review copy courtesy of Citra Computing Network, (03) 7784-0979