While awaiting the Artificial Intelligence that will help us, replace us and rule the world, translators had to find other tools to be more efficient.
A Bit of Explanation
A CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) is a software or a website that helps translators in their jobs. Easy, right? You are probably telling yourself “I’m not a translator but I’m using them too” thinking of Google Translate, Reverso and so on… Sorry to disappoint you, but no. In fact, CAT tools are not able to produce a translation themselves as a Machine Translation (MT) does, if we could say so.
You got it; CAT and MT are not the same.
Now you must be wondering how does it works. Well, it is simple. A CAT tool will generally divide your text into segments (generally sentences) so you could save those segments translated in some kind of glossary called Translation Memories (TM). Therefore, your TM will gradually get bigger and your CAT tool will be more and more useful.
Now that I made you an expert of CAT tools with this short but wonderful explanation, I am going to tell you in 4 points, why CAT tools are so incredibly convenient.
The main purpose of CAT tools is to let you save time. At the beginning of your career as translator, your TM will not save you any time. However, after months and years of hard work, the CAT tool will automatically translate some words according to your previous works. That is to say, you will avoid repetitive translation of the same word and save precious time.
Setting up a layout can be tricky and quite annoying for a translator. However, with a correct use of a CAT tool, there will be no problem anymore. Some of them allow you to recreate the same formatting as the original text without too much work, by simply following the marks that organise the text. This saves you time and prevents you from experiencing a nervous breakdown in front of your Microsoft Word.
Consistency is one of the greatest advantages of CAT tools but also one of the major drawbacks, so it has to be handle with care. As I said earlier, the TM will save your time by recording the already translated words or pieces of sentences. The fact of reusing the same words you have used previously makes you a consistent translator and that is the “Light Side” of CAT tools. However, its “Dark Side” is that sometimes, words used in an older translation do not have the same meaning than in the one you are currently processing. Be careful and always check the meaning. You’d better be consistent rather than wrong.
Have you transcribed well the numbers in your translation? Have you used the correct punctuation? These are stupid questions that you must ask yourself before finishing a work, and the only way to be sure is to re-read carefully what you have done. Now, Super CAT is here with a bunch of quality control tools that can warn you when you have made mistakes either with dates or punctuation, so… No more worries!
I am going to be honest with you; the title of this article should be “Human & Computer Translation”. Many people consider CAT tools as dangerous because it is possible to make mistakes with them or forget to check the meaning of the words and so on.
Let me get things straight, a CAT tool is not more dangerous than a bike; as long as you know how to use it and that you are careful with it, it is safe and much more convenient than walking with your own legs.
For those who think that these tools replace the translator, sorry to disappoint you… you are wrong. This would only be possible in a future where Artificial Intelligence would have the same capacities as the human brain. For the moment, technology helps translators like everyone else in this world, and are able to produce better quality translations in less time.
By Quentin Mosnier