No, we’re not talking about the fluffy, purring kind of cat. In the translation industry, CAT stands for Computer-Assisted Translation, or Computer-Aided Translation – software designed specifically to assist translators and translation companies with their translations, and without which many of us would be completely lost.
However, though they may be useful, a CAT tool could never replace a translator; they simply automate and optimise their work to streamline the entire translation process.
Advantages of using CAT Tools
- Translation memories
Authentic translation files that provide translators with suggestions of previously translated segments (or sentences) of text that may be exactly the same or similar to the new translation. Translation memories are particularly beneficial to clients, as the price of a translation is calculated with this in mind, with repeated words charged at a lower rate.
Databases containing specific definitions or guidelines relating to terminology to be used. These work like dictionaries and can be used alongside translation memories.
Translation memories and glossaries are both tools used by translators to maintain the consistency of their work. This may be for a single document or multiple projects relating to a similar subject matter produced for the same client. For the latter, consistency is achieved by using the same terminology across various projects.
- Quality assurance
Once a translation is complete, certain features of CAT tools allow for errors to be identified, such as spelling and grammar mistakes and even non-translated segments. It also checks that numbers have been formatted correctly and if any terms in the glossary have been translated differently.
- Productivity and speed
Combining all the previous benefits in a single tool hugely increases translator productivity. As a result, projects may be delivered to customers within shorter timeframes, streamlining the entire process.
The human factor is the key tool
While CAT Tools may provide many advantages, they could never replace human translators. Translating requires a deep understanding of the terminology used, proficiency in the language in question, and special note to be taken of context.
Think we’ve let the cat out of the bag with this one? The truth is, while CAT tools are crucial to improving productivity, they simply can’t replace translators. You’ll always need a living, breathing human for high-quality translations to make sure the final product makes sense on every level.