August 4, 2014

Translator's Best Friend

While a man's best friend is a dog, a translator's best friend is, as a poll shows, a CAT. Mind you, CAT here refers to computer-assisted translation tool, not a feline, a small domesticated carnivorous mammal with soft fur, a short snout, and retractile claws, which is widely kept as a pet or for catching mice.

So, what is this CAT tool?

If you're new to the translation industry, CAT tool is a software used by translator to support and facilitate the translation process. This software usually, at least, includes translation memory and terminology management programs.

Benefits of CAT tool

CAT tool, specifically the translation memory (TM) part, is deemed beneficial that most language professionals are using it, and many translation projects require its use. Personally, CAT tool was the main reason I got started translating professionally. The followings are the benefits I find most useful:

  • Translation acceleration
  • CAT tool helps accelerate translation by providing exact and/or fuzzy matching from previously translated materials. This feature is especially valuable when translating a document with many repetitions. On average, translators believe that CAT tool improves their productivity by 20-30%.
  • Terms consistency
  • Through the terminology management, CAT tool provides a means of automatically searching for a term when translating a document. Most of the time, though, I just manually search for the previously translated term in the translation memory.
  • File formats support
  • CAT tool also enables translation of documents in a wide variety of formats without having to own the softwares required to process these formats. The formats extend from the ubiquitous office files to desktop publishing files to files generated by other CAT tools.

Photo by kitty.green66 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, modified from its original.

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