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How technology can simplify your translation projects

Computer-Assisted Translation software, or CAT tools for short, have become part and parcel of translation in the last decade. So what are they, and how can they help simplify your projects?

Despite the important role Computer-Assisted Translation plays in translation these days, many people outside the translation industry aren’t aware of what it is and the great benefits it can offer. In this article, we’ll be giving you a crash course in CAT tools and how they can make a difference to your translation projects.

Is it Google Translate?

When we mention CAT tools to new clients, a question we’re often asked is “That’s not Google Translate, is it?” In a word: no! Don’t worry – we will absolutely not use Google Translate for your translation projects.

Google Translate is what is known as Machine Translation, where a computer does all the translation work. At Cicero, all our translations are carried out, reviewed and double-checked by professional human translators. CAT software only assists a human translator, rather than a computer doing the work for them.

So how do CAT tools work?

CAT tools have two main functions:

  • Extracting the text for translation from the file, and splitting it into manageable chunks for the translator;
  • Storing these translations in a database – a Translation Memory – for future reference.

1. Getting started

When a client gives us the go-ahead for a project, the project manager in charge of the translations will set up a new project using their CAT tool of choice.

There are several CAT tools on the market at the moment, which work in a similar way. The most common and the main one we use here at Cicero is SDL Trados Studio, but MemoQ is very much up-and-coming, and some translators prefer other tools such as Wordfast, DejaVu or MemSource.

CAT tools can handle a vast range of files, from common Microsoft Office files like Word, Excel or PowerPoint, to InDesign files for brochures and flyers and coded files in HTML or XML format.

2. The translation part

The CAT tool will only show the translator the text they need to translate, and ignores any extras like images, comments or coding. This can save them a lot of time sifting through files for the sections they need to translate.

The software splits the text into sentences and presents it to the translator in two columns – the ‘From’ language on the left, and the ‘To’ language on the right. All they have to do is add the translation on the right-hand side.

This is what it might look like to the translator:

SDL Trados Studio - Translator's view

3. Wrapping up

When the translator has translated the files, a proofreader can check them using the same software. The project manager can then sign off the files, export them back to their original format and carry out any final alterations to have the translated versions looking their best.

So, one advantage of a CAT tool is that it helps to simplify, streamline and speed up the translation process.

How do CAT tools help our clients?

The main advantage of a CAT tool for our clients, though, is that once the translations are done and dusted they are added to a ‘Translation Memory’, or TM for short.

If the same sentences or sections of text are repeated in the document or in future translations, the CAT tool recognises it and automatically copies over the pre-existing translation. This speeds up translation as our linguist only has to translate a repeated sentence once – the CAT tool does the rest.

The translator can also use the TM like a glossary to look up how words have been translated for you before, making sure that they use the same vocabulary time after time.

The benefits are:

  1. Repeated sentences and common terms are translated in the same way each time, making your documents consistent.
  2. You get a discount for repeated text. We charge a reduced rate for repeated sections, or text we have already translated during a previous project. That means you won’t have to pay for a whole new translation if your document is only being updated.

In short…

CAT tools can save you valuable time and money on your translation projects. They streamline the translation process, ensure consistency in your translated material and mean you don’t pay over the odds for repeated text.

If you would like to find out more about how CAT tools could help with your project, please get in touch by using the Contact Us form below, calling 01892 676655 or emailing enquiries@cicerotranslations.co.uk.

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