A CAT What? An Ultimate Guide to CAT Tools, and Why Hiring a CAT-Savvy Translator is a Must

[Excerpt from an article on hyperlingo Translation Marketplace]

Firstly, just to be clear, this article is not about tools designed for the use of cats. That would be a different article. CAT stands for Computer Assisted Translation, and refers to the various productivity tools available to the 21st century translator. CAT is not the same as machine translation, where a translation is produced (often badly) by a computer.

Rather, CAT tools help to automate easily-automatable parts of the translation process, leaving the human to focus on the real business of translating. As an example, a CAT tool might help the translator automatically translate all instances of «Le Comte de Monte Cristo» as “The Count of Monte Cristo”, saving them from doing the leg(finger)work. Or it might suggest a pre-defined translation of a technical term or brand name, stored in a translation memory (we’ll come to these later), saving the translator from searching for the correct translation each time they come across it.

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CAT tools are powerful weapons in the arsenal of the modern translator, and can significantly increase productivity and accuracy. According to results from a survey published on the Proz Blog, approximately 80% of translators said that CAT tools improve their translation efficiency by 20% or more, with around 13% claiming greater than 80% productivity gains.

[End of excerpt]


Read on for four reasons why hiring a CAT-savvy translator is a must for every translation project.

1. A CAT tool creates a glossary, known as a translation memory.

As the translator works through the text, any words, sentences or paragraphs that reoccur will be saved in the translation memory and automatically translated or suggested to the translator as they move on. What’s in it for you? Consistency throughout the text, and throughout all of your translation projects. No matter how much content you choose to have translated, and no matter how much time lies between two translation projects, you’ll enjoy consistent and uniform terminology from day one.

2. It saves you money, potentially lots of money.

Not only does a CAT tool speed up the translator and provide consistency, it saves you money! Intrigued? The translator runs an analysis of your text before beginning the project, generating what’s called a fuzzy match grid like the one below.

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Look scary? Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple: repeat words and phrases get a discount. You pay less for fuzzy matches (for example, a sentence that matches half of another previously translated), and best of all, you pay very little for a 100% match. Some translators even provide those at no cost. And since the analysis is done before the project begins, you get an accurate cost estimate (match discounts included) before giving the project a GO.

3. It organizes the text into segments, the two languages appearing side by side.

This gives the translator a clean, structured view of the text, helping to minimize or even eliminate errors or oversights. This is especially helpful for documents with lots of formatting and tables.

4. It maintains formatting, and support a wide range of files.

Have a Word file with lots of tables? No problem. A PowerPoint presentation with graphics? No sweat! CAT tools save the translator the headache of recreating complicated tables or applying tedious amounts of formatting to your text. The tool takes over the task!

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CAT tools are a powerful resource for any translator and should be part of a comprehensive translation service. Not only do they boost productivity, they save the client money and ensure accuracy and consistency throughout all translated materials.

For more information on what to look for when selecting a skilled translator for your project, read my post on [Questions To Ask When Hiring A Translator], or if you’d like to know more about my website  translation services, drop me a line! I’d love to hear from you.

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Cynthia Pecking is a professional French and German translator specializing in creative content and promotional materials, with a Masters of Arts in Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. She has spent the past ten years helping clients expand their message. She is based in Hattingen, Germany, where she lives with her husband and two children.