How useful can CAT tools be?

Published 12th April 2016
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Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tools are used by many translators these days, whether for term-base management or translation memories. But there is some debate over the usefulness of these tools, and some translators refuse to use them at all.

How useful CAT tools are depends on what type of text you’re translating. For example, when translating a technical manual, it is likely that there will be a lot of repetitions, and so translation memory and term-base programmes can be a good way to ensure consistency of terms and language. When translating literature, however, there won’t be many repetitions, and CAT tools probably won’t be as useful when translating this type of language, which is generally much less straightforward than that used in manuals.

When you’re translating an extremely long document, or when a translation is split between several translators, CAT tools can be a good way to ensure that the correct term is used throughout. Terms can be agreed upon and added to a term-base, so that you avoid a situation where each translator uses a different translation of the same term.
When using translation tools, however, it is important to use them correctly. It is easy to rely on fuzzy matches (where the CAT tool uses a similar phrase as a guideline for translating a sentence), but this is likely to lead to increased mistakes, and more time spent polishing the finished text.

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