Two Myths that May be Keeping CAT Tools from Broad Use

Emanuel Longo | October 10, 2011
CAT tools

Taking advantage of the efficiencies that CAT tools provide is not laziness. It’s a best practice.

Translation Memory tools, also called Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools, have a host of misconceptions. Two of the main ones that we have encountered at Dynamic in the past year are:

Myth #1: Established translators do not like translation memory—only the younger and less experienced translators use it.

Lucky for us, that is definitely a myth. Most translators see the benefit of such a tool, and have been using CAT tools for 10+ years.

For example, why would a translator search through hundreds—even thousands—of past projects to recall how a certain phrase was translated? Translation memory and glossaries can provide that information within a few clicks.

Myth #2: It’s the same as Machine Translation.

This myth may be why some people are skeptical to adopt TM technology. Using CAT tools does not make translation any less of an art. Translation Memory does not operate in the same way as Machine Translation (e.g. tools such as Google Translate, Babelfish, etc.)!

Translation Memory is only truly helpful if the translator has translated identical or similar content in the past. The translator builds a database of content over time, as well as glossaries of key terms.

In other words, computer-assisted translation programs (such as Wordfast, SDL/Trados and memoQ) don’t do the work for translators. They only ensure that a translator won’t need to translate similar or identical content multiple times.

It’s impossible for someone to remember how they translated every single word in the last five, 10 or 25 years, so why not let a computer help?

Hope for the future
While not all languages are compatible with these tools, programs are evolving steadily and are constantly expanding their language capabilities.

Along with other LSPs (Language Service Providers), we strongly encourage, and often require our translators to make use of computer-assisted tools. It not only ensures the consistency of translations over time, but makes it easier for the contractor, and the reviewer, in the long run.

What would we say to a skeptical translator?
Learning to incorporate these tools into your workflow may seem daunting—that’s true. But the time and energy you will save in the future is definitely worth the time it will take to learn the tool’s basics. And clients will thank you!


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