CAT tools can be very useful in translation. C.A.T. means computer-aided translation. CAT tools are used by translators to do professional translations. There are many companies out there that make great CAT tools, Trados, MemoQ, Transit, and Wordfast to name just a few.
Now, that doesn’t mean that translators are using machines to do your translations. CAT tools also have that function, but professional translators would not necessarily use them. CAT tools have much more important functions to ensure that your translations are of the highest quality. First and foremost, it allows a translator to see the source and target text right to each side by side without any special formatting or colors. This allows a translator or proofreader to not only have a great overview of the translation at hand, but also allows them to concentrate on the translation and not on the formatting of the document. Hence using CAT tools allow the formatting of a document to be retained completely at no effort to a translator.
After the text is finished, CAT tools have quality assurance (QA) function to make sure that the document received by a customer is free of inconsistencies and errors with regard to numbers in the text, spelling and formatting. QA tools go a step further to help ensure the consistent use of terminology. That means that the same translation of a word on page two is the same as on page 200.
CAT tools are also interfaces for the use of translation memories. Translation memories are nothing more than a compilation of previous translation that are segmented and reused. This not only allows translation to happen faster, but also ensures that translation remains consistent with regard to translations at hand or translation in the future. Translation memories also decrease the dependence of having to have a single translator take care of all a company’s translations. Naturally, this is what every translation office strives to do. They would ideally have a single translator with a single writing style for a single customer. In the event of losing a translator, even to acts of God, it would be a pity for a longstanding customer of 10 years to have to start a square one with their company translations. It is for this reason that translation memories are compiled, segmented and saved, so to say.
In addition, translation memories, also known as TMs, save customers a lot of money too. Texts tend to repeat themselves quite often, especially in certain industries. The same texts get regurgitated again and again. Once a customer has had a sentence or segment translated once, with a translation memory, the customer never needs to pay for it again. And if in fact just bits and pieces of previous text are used, it still saves money and increases the speed at which a translation can be performed.
Terminology can also be saved and processed. This can be very helpful. Similar to what a TM does in the above, terminology bases can save single words, ensuring their usage in the document at hand and future documents. All in all, translation memories and terminology bases can be seen as instruments to make sure that translations across the span of time and the scope of a plethora of documents remain consistent, no matter which translator works on them.
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