Translations and CAT tools

Zbyněk Zelenka

Zbyněk Zelenka

25. 10. 2011

Are you unsatisfied with the quality of a translation?

Would you like to reduce the costs of translation or do you occasionally need an express translation, but are afraid that the overall quality of the translation will decrease?

Do you require that professional terminology is strictly used?

Would you like to reduce the costs of graphical processing of your documents or the costs of processing a translated website?

If you answered yes to at least one of these questions, we recommend that you continue reading.

All the above-stated requirements can be met with the help of incorporating a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool into the translating process. This has nothing in common with automatic translating, as it is translation conducted by actual translators simply supported by computers. The basic principle behind CAT tools is that all translated sentences are saved into a translation memory. When a similar sentence emerges in your translations in future, the translation of such a sentence will be offered to the translator, who can either accept this proposed translation as it is, or modify it according to his/her needs.

Here are the main advantages of CAT tools:

  1. Terminological and stylistic uniformity in all your documents.
  2. Faster translation at a lower price; all the words in repeated sentences are charged with only 30% of the usual rate.
  3. Processing basically any file format. The agency will submit the translation in the format of the source text, so you can avoid lengthy conversions into the original format and the danger of making mistakes during the process.

CAT tools have been used in translating for more than 20 years and during this period a lot of other features have been added in order to improve the whole translation process.

These added features include:

  1. Cooperation with a terminological dictionary integrated directly into the CAT tool. Translators thus do not have to keep checking the occurrence of each translated term in the client’s terminological dictionary. The CAT tool automatically searches the connected terminological dictionary for each term, and in case it is already included, it offers the term to the translator.
  2. Quality assurance – this process is able to fix most potential mistakes of the translator; for example, it checks whether all the digits were correctly copied, searches for extra spaces between words or for text with no translated equivalent, and checks whether the terminology used corresponds to the client’s requirements. A finished translation may be checked based on a number of various parameters.
  3. Server deployment of CAT tools. This solution eases the burden on all participating parties, as all the translators in a team working on a big project have access to an updated translation memory or terminological dictionary. The memory or the dictionary are saved on a server, which several translators have real-time access to, so they always work with an updated database and may share their translations. This solution is especially important for huge translation projects that need to be processed within a very short period and that focus on terminological uniformity.

CAT nástroje

Which CAT tool is the best?

Selection of a suitable CAT tool is mainly a responsibility of translation agencies or individual translators. However, even clients should have an idea about which CAT tool is used for their translations and what it means for them. Also, each client may need a different tool. This is why our agency provides translations and localizations using more than 10 various CAT tools. There is a number of CAT tools (see for example Wikipedia for more information), but in terms of offered features, current CAT tools are almost equal so it is necessary to look elsewhere for deciding factors. The global number of active users of given CAT tools is affected mainly by how user-friendly they are and by their history of use. The more translators use the given tool, the easier you can find a specialist in the required discipline. Also, you can then provide better deadlines, even for huge translation projects.

Table of translators actively using the following CAT tools:
1. SDL Trados* – 54%
2. Wordfast – 24%
3. SDLX* – 19%
4. Across – 14%
5. STAR Transit – 9%
6. SDL Passolo* – 7%
7. DejaVu – 6%
8. OmegaT – 5%
9. Catalyst – 4%
10. Idiom* – 3%
11. MemoQ – 3%

* These CAT tools are parts of SDL International

Source: research by ZELENKA

Expenses on quality translators are rising, so the use of CAT tools is the main way to reduce overall costs of translations without jeopardizing their resulting quality.


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