How a Cat Can Get You Started in Translation

In the age of Siri (or Iris for Android users) you can be sure there are tools that will help you translate. They are what we call in the translation world CAT tools. CAT stands for Computer-Assisted Translation. You did not really think it was a cat, right?

What translation tools do for you

CAT tools are software applications that break the text to be translated into segments (sentences). The translation of each segment is saved together with the source text in a translation memory. This translation memory, or TM, “suggests” a translation for segments similar to the one stored in the memory from previous translations. If the suggested translation fits the new segment, you can just accept it or make the necessary changes to the translation, without having to translate from scratch. The tool jumps from one segment to another by highlighting what you need to translate. It also indicates a percentage (“fuzzy match”) that indicates how close the segment to translate is to the one it is finding in the memory. You can assign colors to the highlighted segment to translate to give you a visual clue whether it is a perfect match to the one in the memory, that way you don’t need to spend too much time comparing the segments.

6 advantages of CAT tools

  1. Short segments to be translated at a time.
  2. Clear view of the segment to be translated. The tool isolates the segment and brings it to the forefront of the interface.
  3. Move from one segment to the next preventing you from skipping a segment and leaving it untranslated.
  4. Populate the translation field with the suggestion in the memory. This saves a lot of time especially when there are expressions that are repeated throughout the text.
  5. Helps to translate expressions and technical terms consistently. You don’t need to memorize or go back in the translation to see how you translated them before.
  6. Embedded glossary that provides the translation of most frequent terms in the source text.

CAT tools can be downloaded to your computer and the translation is saved on your hard drive. Most tools on the market have an online version. The source text is stored on the server and the translation is saved in the same place. Nothing is stored on your computer. Online CAT tools allow collaboration because the translation memory can be shared by other translators connected to the tool. At Lionbridge, we work with a proprietary tool called Translation Workspace, which offers many features that make translation easy and simple.

Does it still sound complicated?

Leave a Reply