CAT tools – the best invention since the dictionary
The Computer Assisted Translation tool, widely referred to as CAT Tool, is a computer program that is used to facilitate the translation process. It is an indispensable aid to improve the quality – or quantity – of a translator’s productivity, besides allowing to collaborate on group projects or to perform translation checks and analysis. For keen translators or those looking to increase their workload within a given deadline, these tools herald a new dawn.
How do CAT tools work?
The magic happens through the TM (translation memory), which is nothing other than a database of often-used terms or sentences coupled with their translation. When a document is fed into the CAT tool, it will scan the text for these terms and provide an accurate translation instantly for the translator to use or edit.
Here are some advantages of a CAT tool and how it can help the translator to improve productivity
Efficient use of time:
In terms of speed, CAT tools are the best. Even if you as a translator might not use the exact phrase as it pops up from the TM, it will nevertheless give you a clear indication of how the sentence was translated earlier in the text and guide you on the terminology. In this fashion, the CAT tool will provide an instrumental basis to work with.
A further advantage of CAT tools is that they are intrinsically thorough. Thus they will help to detect these human errors, that happen even to the keenest translator at the end of a long day.
One is my favourite features of a CAT tool is the fact that consistent translation is applied to a particular term or a sentence throughout the text. It further makes sure that you apply the exact terminology given by a client.
CAT tools have come a long way, and today they are a great way of sharing work between multiple translators by ensuring that every assignee will use the same glossary provided by a client. A simple way to ensure that the final product appears consistent. The common interface facilitates the input and cross-contribution throughout the assignment.
Analysis and Review:
The review stage of a translation is a breeze with a CAT tool. The visual advantage of having the source and target text next to each other is essential for a thorough inspection of the progress. These basic yet efficacious features make an essential difference to your workflow especially when dealing with larger volumes.
Computer-assisted Translation Tools also are also a godsend when it comes to calculating the price and quoting the cost of a project. Their inbuilt scanner can analyse a text and help you determine a fair price tag for your services.
With all these advantages at hand, we should have a quick look at the current market and see what options are available. There is an excellent choice of CAT tools out there, and some are better than others – some are more expensive than others too:
Freely available CAT Tools:
There is some CAT-software free of charge available. These are the perfect choice for the burgeoning freelancer who is still finding his/her way around these tools.
By paying a nominal fee, you can use some of these tools and get access to additional features. This will help you improve your productivity significantly.
- Fluency Now
- Online Tools
A web-based tool gives you the significant advantage of working on your project from anywhere in the world. It seems that even the traditional brands are moving this way as this feature is prevalent among freelancers:
The Prime Choice:
As you are progressing in your translator career, you will have to deal with one of the big names at some stage. They come at a price but will be worth the investment.
- SDL Trados
I have started out with OmegaT and moved on to web-based options from Wordfast and MemoQ – via client licences. At the end of last year, I have bought SDL Trados Studio 2019, and I am delighted with it.