Today, IT has become ubiquitous in all fields, and translation is no exception. So what are CAT tools and why use them?
CAT stands for computer-assisted translation. CAT software breaks a text down into segments, with one segment usually equating to one sentence. The purpose of CAT software is to avoid having to translate identical segments over and over again. CAT software works in conjunction with translation memories. Each memory is a multilingual database containing all past translations for a given client. CAT software automatically compares each segment to the translations in the memory and retrieves identical or similar segments to facilitate the translation of new documents. This avoids the need to retranslate segments, sentences or paragraphs that have already been translated in the past, helping to speed up the translation process and improve consistency from one translation project to the next.
There are various CAT software programs available on the market, with the best known being SDL Trados, MemoQ, Déjà Vu and Across.
CAT tools should not be confused with automated or machine translation engines (of which Google Translate is the best known). With CAT tools, the translation process is carried out entirely by thinking human beings, which is not the case with machine translation. With CAT tools, the translation is still generated by the translator, who uses the software to refer back to previous translations so as to work more efficiently. For example, if a segment is almost identical to a previous translation, the translator can simply make the necessary adjustments to reflect the new sentence or, alternatively, can rewrite the translation entirely if the existing translation does not work in the context of the current document. Machine translation simply generates a translation without taking context into account.
CAT tools speed up the translation process for translators, but what are the advantages for clients?
Firstly, they receive their translations more quickly.
Secondly, CAT tools help to improve the quality and consistency of translations from one project to the next.
And, last but not least, they also enable clients to benefit from cost savings! If a document contains identical segments or segments that resemble translations from previous projects, the cost of the translation will be less, as the translator will be able to make use of the existing translations.
At Tradoc, we systematically use CAT tools to ensure top-quality and consistent translations. We maintain a translation memory for each of our clients, so that we can ensure consistency with your preferred terminology and offer you the benefit of cost savings based on repetition within your file and/or matches with prior translations.
Contact us to obtain a quotation optimised using our CAT tools.