CAT Tools

Q: What is CAT or a CAT tool?

A: CAT or Computer Aided (Assisted) Translation is a form of language translation in which a human translator uses computer software to support and facilitate the translation process. It is sometimes called machine-assisted, or machine-aided translation, but it should not be confused with machine translation, in which software translates text or speech from one language to another. A CAT tool is computer software used for this purpose.

Q: Is it somewhat like … Google Translate etc.?

A: Absolutely no! The main purpose of a CAT tool is to help the human translator by means of a wide range of built-in tools such as speeding up the translation process etc., not to make the translation itself. Well, machine translation functions such as Google Translate may be embedded in a CAT tool, but it is never the main function.

Q: Do (human) translators use machine translation?

A: Well, a professional translator do not use it, because disadvantages of using machine translation surpass advantages of it. Firstly, as the name implies, it is a machine, a thing without judgement, justification or consciousness. If the text to be translated is an easy one, than the translator is capable of translating it. If it is a hard one, than the machine simply cannot help. Secondly, clients do not want so. If they wanted, they would use it, not assign the job to a translator. Anyway, machine translation (such as Google Translate) is free! Thirdly, machine translation cannot understand the “context”, which is a human feature. Finally, it is possible that first you have the text translated by computer and then review it. However, it is (a) time consuming (translating from scratch takes a shorter time), (b) machine usually makes ‘weird’ mistakes and if you do overlook it you will have ‘weird’ translation!

Q: Can you name some CAT tools? Which one(s) do you use?

A: There are many CAT tools, and the number is increasing. Most common ones are SDL Trados (which I prefer), Wordfast, memoQ, SDLX, Across, Deja Vu etc.

Q: How can CAT tools help?

A: Some major advantages of using a CAT tool:

  • A CAT tool use a translation memory (TM) which stores all segments (or let’s say sentences) along with their translation. By this way, it ‘remembers’ previously translated segments and reminds and benefits from this where applicable. You translate a repeated segment only once;
  • A CAT tool can increase your production (and speed) with the help of a reasonably stocked TM;
  • You can translate terms consistently throughout the text with the help of terminology functions of CAT tools;
  • While using a CAT tool the only thing you see on the screen is the text, not tables, charts etc. By this way, you are not distracted and you can focus on the translation itself;
  • Reviewing, spellcheck, grammar check, verification etc. is much more efficient.

Q: Are you experienced about CAT tools?

A: I have been benefitting from CAT tools for 10+ years. I used SDLX, Trados 2007/2009/2011/2014/2017/2019, memoQ, Wordfast, Passolo, Sisulizer, Across, Linguist, Transit etc. Now I use the most recent version of Trados – Trados Studio 2021. I have Advanced Level Certificate of SDL Trados Studio for Translators. Out of 44,000+ pages of translation I made, nearly half of them are completed using CAT tools, mainly Trados.