Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Systems Create New Opportunities for Clients

A CAT program is not a substitute for a translator, but his or her tool. CAT tools help specialists avoid routine work, and clients save their money.

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) system is the software developed to aid translators and linguists in increasing translation production by using:

The first steps towards automated translation were made back in the 1960s, when France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg started working on a common terminology base called Eurodicautom.

In 1980, computer linguist Martin Kay in his “The Proper Place of Men and Machines in Language Translation”, proposed a thesis that could describe the purpose of modern CAT tools: “By taking over what is mechanical and routine, it (computer) frees human beings for what is essentially human”.

In translation forums, the term “cat” is used for a translation automation program. This name comes from the English acronym CAT – “computer-assisted translation”. Other designations include: “CAT”, “Cat tools”, “CAT program”.

Types of CAT programs.

There are two types of translation automation systems: local and cloud-based. The main difference is in the place where the calculation and storage of data take place: the first type uses a user device and the second one uses cloud storage.

Local CAT tools guarantee full confidentiality of the document: only the device owner has access to it. Such a program allows a specialist to work from anywhere in the world because local systems work off-line. However, there is the other side of the coin. Storing a project on one computer sometimes results in loss of work due to equipment failure. It should be noted that the CAT tool version needs to be updated in order to use the full functionality of the program. At the same time, translators are often tied to the performance of the device.

The cloud-based CAT tools provide an open free API: an application programming interface that makes it possible for computer programs to interact with each other. As a result, the possibilities are endless. For example, a document to be translated can be accessed by one or a group of translators working on the same project, and a translation agency manager. The manager monitors the work real-time, which guarantees 100% transparency and control. Cloud-based CAT tools, unlike local ones, don’t require powerful hardware and constant updates for comfortable use. However, using a cloud-based CAT software, a translator must always have access to the Internet.

Operation Principle of Computer-Assisted Translation

  1. We create a project in the CAT program and then a document to be translated is divided into segments. Learn more about it here.
  2. We connect a glossary and translation memory (TM), that is a database that contains a set of previously translated text segments. The use of TM will speed up the translation and help achieve consistency when translating terms and stereotyped expression.
  3. CAT software analyzes the text and shows the percentage of repetitions in the text that directly affects the final cost of the translation.
  4. A translator starts to work on the analyzed text, translates it and edits the corrections proposed by the program. The CAT tool interface allows a specialist to see all information on one page: there is an original text on the left side of the screen and the right side thereof is for a translation. This approach eliminates the need to scroll through a file or switch tabs to find the right text fragment, making the translator’s work faster and more efficient.

After reviewing the process, it becomes clear that CAT ≠ machine translation. CAT tools automate the translators’ routine work but don’t translate anything on their own.

Benefits of CAT Software for Clients

  • Savings. Cat tools calculate the percentage of repetitions in the text that affect the final cost of translation; The more repetitions, the lower the price. There is no need to pay full rate for translation of frequently repetitive structures (this is relevant for translations of documentation, drawings, etc.). The total savings are 15-70%;
  • 100% compliance with glossary;
  • translation consistency;
  • high translation speed. Automation expedite the proceedings by up to 70%;
  • the possibility of quick editing when the client makes corrections;
  • work with various formats. Read more about file formats for translation in this article;
  • possibility for the team to work on the same project from different devices simultaneously.

Reasons to Use CAT Tools

Progress hasn’t ignored the translation industry: a CAT is a kind of Henry Ford conveyor that reduces the cost of finished products for customers, increases productivity, and maintains a decent level of quality. Neglecting the existence of such a technology is a clear sign of a mediocre translation agency.

FREEDOM Translation Agency has been using computer-aided translation and offering services at fair prices for years. In contrast to typical for the CIS countries calculation of characters with spaces to getting a quote for translation, we rely on the text length calculated in words and also take into account the percentage of inaccurate matches and repetitions. You can read more about the advantages of calculating the length of the text in words, get a quote, and order translation here.

Yevhen Venherenko

Yevhen Venherenko

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