For each experienced translator, CAT tools are an obvious choice, but not everybody is familiar with their role in our industry. For those who begin their career as translators, they can even seem enigmatic. Of course, we know that the Internet was invented to view pictures of cute cats but what’s with the CAT software? This is the perfect opportunity to write a little more on the advantages of such software for freelancers and companies.
The abbreviation stands for Computer-Assisted Translation. To be precise, it’s a way to translate texts with the help of machine learning and computer databases. But don’t you worry: such software is not and will never be able to replace the experience and skills of a human expert. Such things as contexts or metaphors require to be properly decoded by a person with knowledge and feelings. A database is not enough.
CAT software forms a large group of tools that enhance productivity and quality. They involve glossaries, translation memories and dictionaries that are constantly updated by translators.
There is really a lot of fish in the sea when it comes to the software market for translators. You can choose from many applications supporting multiple file types: from the most popular like SDL Trados Studio or Wordfast to less known but equally effective such as CafeTran Espresso. There are also freeware options like OmegaT. Of course, those that require paid subscriptions have much more to offer in terms of features and functionalities. You can also opt for a cloud solution such as Memsource or Smartcat.
One of the most (if not the most) important CAT tool features is creating machine learning-based translation memories. Such TMs are databases gathering large chunks of texts. Thanks to them, the software can propose previously stored solutions, and thus shorten the time to complete a task.
The answer is quite easy: everybody benefits from it. The translators save time and energy, while their work is much faster and less fatiguing. The software divides our text into segments (translated and to be translated), which improves the navigation and efficiency. With such a tool, we can create our own glossaries and specialised dictionaries, which are ready to be used at all times. If you think about professional translation as a full time job, getting familiar with CAT tools is more than mandatory. Your work and time management will be improved far more than you think!