Use of CAT tools in translation | Network Languages
Posted on June 28, 2013 by Chris
The use of Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools by translators and translation agencies is becoming more and more widespread. Many firms will not even employ a translator if he or she is not in possession of a CAT tool to aid translation. This kind of software has become widely known throughout the localisation industry, yet is virtually unheard of in other circles. So what is a CAT tool and why are they so important?
A CAT tool is intended as a translation aid. It is not the same as computer translation and does not do the translation for you. Instead, what it does is to remember the translated terms, speeding up the process by remembering repetitions as well as what CAT terms as ‘fuzzy’ text – text which is almost the same, where just one or two words need to be altered – and entering them automatically in the target field.
The CAT tool provides a ‘bilingual’ translation, that is it displays both source and target text. If preferred, a translator can also deliver what is known as a ‘clean’ text, displaying target text only.
A translator can import, export and even create a translation memory. This enables future translations for the same client to be consistent by employing the same terminology and is much more efficient than typing up an Excel spreadsheet manually.
With a larger translation agency, a project manager is generally employed to convert the client’s text into a file compatible with the preferred CAT tool. While SDL Trados is the industry-preferred CAT software, its Hungarian competitor MemoQ is rapidly gaining ground in parts of Europe.
As translators generally charge per word, a CAT tool can save both translation firm and client money by ensuring that the translator is paid less per ‘fuzzy’ word or repetition than for a ‘new’ word. In addition, CAT tools have built in quality assurance checks, including checks for spelling and consistency.
Despite these advantages, CAT tools are not perfect and many translators still prefer to work in Word. A CAT tool breaks down the text into small segments, choosing its breaks at spots that are not always ideal in terms of language. In translating a text where the brief is more to provide a natural flow of the language than a literal adherence to the source text, using a CAT tool like Trados can be restricting, as the breaks may not always be in the same place.
For Arabic Translation Services, where the script is so different between target and source, purchasing a specialist CAT tool for use in Arabic is essential.
Once a Language Translation specialist has become used to the quirks and benefits of a CAT tool, however, most of them find themselves wondering how they ever coped without one, and they have become as essential a tool to the linguist as design software has become to the architect.