First of all, what are CAT tools? Essentially, they are specialised software programs that assist the translation process by integrating file management, translation memories and glossaries together with a host of other features such as analysis, search, quality control, and user-friendly interfaces. Not to be confused with machine translation, they aid human translations to become more efficient.
More than just a cog in the machine
But what exactly does this mean for your translation? Here are seven ways CAT tools can benefit your translation project.
1. Welcoming all file types
Powerful CAT tools such as SDL Trados can process all sorts of file types from html files to InDesign and PPTs. It takes the source text, segments it into sections – usually per sentence – and presents the text in an easy-to-translate and bilingual format for the translators. It also works with tags, so markup files are safe from accidental coding alterations and DTP files retain all the original formatting. Which means less cutting-and-pasting and better quality.
2. Ensuring consistency with translation memories
The translation memory stores previously translated texts – the source and target pairs called translation units – and retrieves it when a ‘match’ comes up in future texts. Take the Supertext slogan.
German version: Wir legen ein gutes Wort für Sie ein. Supertext AG – Übersetzungsbüro und Textagentur.
English version: We’ll put in a good word for you. Supertext – copywriting and translation agency.
This blurb is used in all of our marketing text. And because it’s stored in our translation memory, it will always be translated in the same way.
3. Getting terminology right with glossaries
The concordance search function allows the translator to look up certain words and terms to see how it has been translated in the past. So taking the example above, a quick search for ‘Übersetzungsbüro’ will show that Supertext has always translated it as ‘translation agency’. Furthermore, glossaries can be attached as a database and in the case of Trados, if a term comes up that has a glossary entry, it will automatically suggest the translation as you type. At Supertext, we have client specific translation memories and terminology databases, so your company vocabulary doesn’t get lost in translation.
4. Speeding things up with auto-suggest and matches
Through matches, auto-suggestions, translation memories and terminology databases, CAT tools speed up the translation process significantly. Another feature called ‘auto-propagate’ accelerates the process even more: if a line is repeated in the text, it will insert the first translation into all cases, eliminating the need for copy and pasting. It also makes life easier for the translator by displaying the text in translatable segments, so they don’t spend their time jumping from one text box to the next.
5. Handling volume with ease
CAT tools make it easier to handle high volume – firstly through the increase in speed, and secondly from a project management standpoint. Increasingly, cloud technology is enabling the sharing of translation memories, which means multiple translators can work on one project with access to the same resources.
6. Bringing costs down with higher efficiency
Time is money, obviously. For the line ‘Wir legen ein gutes Wort für Sie ein.’, it took maybe 15 minutes to get the translation just right the first time. And now, whenever the line comes up again, it takes maybe 15 seconds to check that ‘We’ll put in a good word for you.’ still fits within the context. The more ‘matches’ there are, the less time a translation takes – and we pass on those savings to you.
7. Assuring quality with tricks of the trade
Consistency and terminology are just two elements of high-quality translations. CAT tools also increase quality through tools that go beyond spelling and grammar checks – it will flag inaccuracies in numbers, punctuation, tags and formatting. And despite the criticism it sometimes gets for breaking the flow of the text, the segmentation and bilingual layout means the translator can focus on the texts and just the text – increasingly important as html and DTP docs become ever more prevalent.
Interested in learning more about how Supertext uses CAT tools? Get in touch. We’ll also tell you more about how we combine CAT tools with our plugins and API solutions to turn your translations into one seamless process.
Cover picture via via Pixabay (CC0)