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What is Computer-Assisted Translation?

Translating a document requires time, knowledge, and skills that are specific to the profession. It can be a complex and time-consuming process! Fortunately, today, we have multiple linguistic software and tools available to fluidify and, most importantly, optimize and improve translations.

One of the profession's key tools is Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT). Thanks to this tool, translations can be completed quicker and more efficiently.

In another article, we've covered the different types of translation and why it's important to consult an agency to optimize all your content. In this article, we'll take a more detailed look at the techniques used by translators to improve their translation work, CAT tools being predominant in this aspect.

What is Computer-Assisted Translation? What's the difference with Automatic Translation? Plus, more importantly, how does it work? You can find the answers to all your questions in this article from Powerling, a leading agency for international content.

CAT: Let's take a look at the definition

In order to make sure that translations are completed effectively and efficiently, linguists use software in their translation process. Computer-assisted translation means that segments, phrases or words that have been translated previously are identified and populated in files. This way, you're able to build up a bilingual database that can be added to over time. The terms in this database are automatically translated the next time they're found in a document for translation.

CAT vs. automatic translation

Automatic translation is translation generated by a software. There's one example that pretty much everyone has heard of: Google Translate. This free online tool automatically translates words using an initial dictionary, which is also supplemented by user contributions. This allows for more global comprehension of text and its content.

However, automatic translation has its limits. Most of us have been there before - you've trusted Google Translate and been left red-faced by an incorrect awkward or, in some cases, downright rude translation! Whilst automatic translation can translate words, it hasn't got that human aspect which can analyze and handle the context, environment, and feeling of the text. This means that it can often produce text that reads robotically or even unintelligibly, as the computer behind it hasn't grasped the full text and its specificities. This is why it's usually best to use a CAT tool. The translator will be able to understand the environment and sense of the text, allowing them to better translate the content, but they can also work efficiently to deliver high-quality texts thanks to their CAT tool. A robot will always miss that human touch: They mechanically translate word-by-word or, at best, phrase-by-phrase.

How do CAT tools work?

The main and most appreciated feature of CAT tools is the Translation Memory. To put it simply, all translations entered in the software used are automatically saved in its memory. This way, any phrases which crop up again in documents translated in the same software will be automatically populated, either in full or partially.

It's also worth noting that CAT tools aren't only standalone software, and they can come in the form of add-ons that can be integrated into text processing programs.

The Déjà Vu software

Powerling uses Déjà Vu, which is an efficient tool for optimizing your documents for translation. Developed by ATRIL in 1993, the software is a CAT tool that uses Translation Memories. Translation Memories have revolutionized productivity and consistency in translated documents.

Déjà Vu X3 Professional is the most recent and most advanced version of the program. Among many other features, it allows for documents to be analyzed which, in turn, leads to more precise quotes, and this program also offers the integration of automatic translation, an integrated spellcheck, and total interoperability, to name but a few.

The benefits of using a CAT tool

CAT tools allow translators to optimize their translation process and the work that they deliver by harmonizing the content translated. To sum it up, we've put together a list of the top 3 advantages:

  • Major timesaving! Thanks to the segmenting of sentences, words or phrases saved in the database, the translation process is significantly sped up. This saves time for the translator and can be particularly helpful for large files or files with several repetitions.
  • Boosted productivity! By working faster, the linguistic experts can translate more content with shorter turnaround times.
  • Easier on the budget! Sometimes, translators are paid based on the time spent translating your content. In these cases, it's clear to see that software which saves time for translators can save money for you.

Do you have a translation project in mind? Do you have any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us!

NEWS : Powerling has recently acquired WCS group.

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