When it comes to coming up with the best version of a translation in the minimum amount of time, technology has been simplifying the process, by reducing time and effort, as well as increasing the efficiency of the final results.
Computer-assisted translation (CAT tools) are one of the most common and used techniques that help translators in their work, so what are they exactly and do they function?
What is computer-assisted translation?
Basically, CAT tools are software used to support human translators in translating, submitting, editing, managing, and storing translations from one language to another. In other words, it is an automated process that helps in delivering the finest version of the translated text. Globally, CAT tools are used among big and international companies around the world.
What does a CAT tool do?
Mainly, CAT tools depend on consistency, one might ask: how exactly? The translator can enter the text in the original language into the software, then divide it into paragraphs, phrases, sentences, and more. After finishing the process, the software has the feature of storing and sorting the translations in a database called “translation memory”.
The equation is the more you translate, the more data you have, and the faster it is to complete your tasks. This kind of automation speeds up the process and the efficiency depending on past translations.
Machine translation vs computer-assisted translation: the difference explained
The two terms can be misplaced easily, however, there is a direct difference between them. To put it simply, CAT tools let humans lead the whole way, while machine translation does the whole job.
With machine translation, content is automatically translated from one language to another using artificial intelligence (AI) without the need for human assistance. Technical documentation or user-generated content, for example, is particularly effective when translated with machine translation. Due to the lack of translation precision and copywriting skills required for this type of content, automatic translation lends itself well to it.
Furthermore, a translation management system (TMS) is a cloud-based tool that falls under machine translation that is used to boost productivity and costs can, usually as a starting point for human editing.
Although machine translation engines have grown in sophistication over time, they can now be trained on data with the assistance of post-editors as well. In order to deliver accurate, efficient, and high-quality translations, human translators can combine MT engines with CAT tools.
How does a CAT tool for translation work?
Computer-assisted translation tools work based on splitting the source text into smaller units, that are paragraphs, sentences, and phrases, called segments, then sorting them in the translation memory. The process involves the coming stages:
- The translator enters the source text in the CAT program
- CAT extracts only the content that can be translated (images and non-text content will not appear as translatable in the user interface)
- The entered text will be divided into smaller divisions
- Each segment of the source text and the translation is displayed side-by-side in the interface
- As soon as the translator finishes translating a segment, he or she types translations into the still-empty target segments
- The CAT tool saves the source text and translation as a pair in a translation memory, which can be updated as needed by the translator. Once the translator completes the translation segment, the translation memory will be updated accordingly
- Based on the translation memory, the CAT tool will automatically fill in the target column with translations for identical or similar source-text segments to give suggestions to it
Common features of modern CAT tools
Several features and advantages are shared among different CAT tools, including:
1. Translation memory
This is the most essential feature of computer-assisted translation tools. Translation memory is created to be a database for the previous translations that can provide either full translation for an identical text or suggestions for a similar one.
2. Translation glossary
A translation glossary can be considered a dictionary for specific terms in the text. It provides definitions or specific instructions for related organizations, companies or institutions mentioned in the source text.
It can help translators in delivering high-quality translations within less time for the specialized terminology across projects, which ensures accuracy and consistency.
3. Collaborative work
Cloud-based CAT tools allow you to include your team of translators including editors, product specialists and managers in your project so they can provide edits and comments in real-time so you all be on the same track.
4. Machine translation capabilities
The abilities of MT can be used in the CAT tools to speed up the process. Translators can input the source text and choose the target language so the machine translation does the job. One advantage of this is that it can translate a large volume of text with less effort.
What are the benefits of CAT tools?
– Translation with less cost
A CAT tool helps you work faster and more efficiently because of its matching algorithm, so translations no longer need to be retyped several times for similar texts.
– High-quality translation
With its consistency feature, you can deliver a top-notch translation with the help of the translation memory.
You can customize the workflow with integrations and built-in modules, so you can use it for almost any project.
Why are language tools important for global business?
Language tools are essential for global business as they help to bridge the language gap between different cultures, as well as allow businesses to communicate in a language that is both efficient and effective to ensure global understanding. They can help businesses to understand local customs and regulations, and to interpret and translate documents.
By leveraging the power of language tools, businesses can access new markets, expand their customer base, and improve customer service. Language tools are critical for businesses to remain competitive in the global marketplace.
– How to choose the best CAT tool?
Just like any other type of tool, choosing the right computer-assisted translation tool depends on several factors related to the business, some of them are:
– Call your budget
CAT tools are available at different price ranges. While the initial investment might seem high, it pays off in time savings and in the efficiency, consistency, and quality of your translations.
– Determine your needs
Defining your needs and desired outcomes will help you choose the right CAT tool. Find out who will be using it and ask them what features they would like.
– Fulfill your needs with integrations
The best CAT tools are the ones that complement your current workflow and bridge existing gaps and optimize your processes.