Computer Assisted Translation or CAT-software

What are CAT tools?

Computer Assisted Translation or CAT-software is a type of computer software that human translators use to support and facilitate the translation process. CAT stands for Computer Assisted Translation.

Computer-assisted translations are sometimes called machine-assisted or machine-aided translations (not to be confused with machine translations).

CAT tools divide documents into translation units (TU) also called segments, and present these segments one by one in order to ease and speed-up the translation process. The tools then save the translated segments in a database – the Translation Memory or TM

With each new translation request the translator automatically adapts the TM to facilitate any further translation project. For a new project the CAT tools search the TM for any segment or part of TU that could be reused. Translation units can also be reused for any other purpose, and helps to improve quality, because the translation services are coherent and consistent.

What are the advantages of using CAT tools?

Working with CAT software has a number of benefits/advantages, especially when it comes to technical translations:

    • Completeness: the translation is done section by section and there are no sentences left untranslated.
    • Time: a translator can always go back at any time to a segment that has already been translated to verify or adapt the translation.
    • Uniformity: uniformity leads to clarity. It helps, especially in the field of technical documents, to prevent translation errors.
    • Revision: by navigating through the text the proof-reader can locate and adapt segments that require improvement and this helps to enhance the quality control.
    • Cost reduction: previously translated sentences are usually offered at a lower rate.

CAT-software is no translation software.

When we talk about Computer-Assisted Translation or CAT tools, many people are under the impression  that the software translates the documents.

Nothing could be further from the truth, the translator does most of the work: he is the one who decides to accept or not the suggestion made by the software, depending on the context. No CAT tools are yet able to determine the meaning of words in a specific context. The translator’s expertise and creativity plays the most important role.

Computer-Assisted Translation software only helps the translator and is therefore not an automatic or machine translation software. It is above all a tool for quality improvement.

 

Google translation? Automatic translation or machine translation?

Unlike the CAT tools used by professionals, automatic translation is a solution for the consumer. Automatic translation is usually a free service implemented by a web platform. There are two approaches:

  • Unlike the CAT tools used by professionals, automatic translation is a solution for the consumer. Automatic translation is usually a free service implemented by a web platform. There are two approaches:
  • • The second approach, and this is the approach that Google has adopted, uses a statistical evaluation combined with some machine learning without analysing the context. Google uses billions of words indexed every day by its software, with a propensity for documents with a credible translation. Google, with the help of statistics, then tries to determine which translation would be most useful.

Regardless of the approach, the results of this automatic translation or machine translation are generally good enough to understand the contents of a simple document. However, it can never be a substitute for a human translation at a professional level.

A professional translator remains essential to provide a correct, accurate and appropriate translation into another language.