I may not remember what I actually said (and possibly I didn't even use another language); and this is a little beside the point. But--I'm not sure the Spanish would necessarily use the 'a' for an animal. The examples that are usually given where the 'a' marker is needed are almost always with humans, not animals. Aissen ("Differential object marking: Iconicity vs. economy", fn 24) writes:
In Spanish, object marking is optional for animate
(non-human) definites and for human indefinites. At any rate, this is supposed to be headline language, so articles are omitted, and it seems plausible that 'a' could be omitted too. But I don't want to get too deeply into these questions, as my real question was about statistical MT. --
maxwell at umiacs.umd.edu
"My definition of an interesting universe is
one that has the capacity to study itself."