Computer-assisted translation

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) incorporates a manual editing stage into the software, making translation an interactive process between human linguists and their computers. Computer-assisted translation is a broad and imprecise term covering a range of tools, from the fairly simple to the most complex. These can include: Spell checkers, Grammar checkers, Terminology managers, Electronic dictionaries, Terminology databases, Translation memories, Formatting preserving tools, among others.

CAT Tools and Translation Memories

A CAT tool saves translation units (TUs) in a translation memory (TM). The translation of each segment is saved together with the source text. A CAT tool presents the segments to the linguist in a convenient way to facilitate the translation process making it easier and faster.

Translation memories, simply put, are a database file or set of files. They need a software interface to be used and modified. This software is commonly referred to in the industry as a CAT (Computer-assisted Translation) tool and can be a standalone software program or a web-based application. CAT tools should not be mistaken as general machine translation engines.

CAT tools actually enable human translators to leverage approved past quality translations in an environment that allows for quick and easy access to translation memories. CAT tools also provide a means to build on past translation memories or create new memories through corrections or the translation of new segments. Trusted Translations utilizes CAT Tools and translation memories to improve quality and lower costs.

CAT Tools and Repetitions

There are several key terms that are used in connection with translation memories. Some of the more common terms include: Full Matches, Repetitions, Fuzzy Matches and No Matches. When a translator applies the translation memory to new content, there are several possible outcomes. One possible outcome is a “No Match”, which simply means that there are no matching segments in the memory. This phrase needs to be translated from scratch by an expert human translator. Another outcome is a “Full Match” (i.e., “100 percent” match) which predictably means there is a phrase (or segment) in the new text that is identical to an already translated phrase stored in the translation memory. In this case, the translator needs to verify the segment is correctly used within the context of the new translation, and simply approve if correct. Finally, you can have what is called a “Fuzzy match” which is when a phrase or segment in the new content that is similar, but not identical, to a segment stored in the translation memory. The human translator in all cases needs to review the results to either verify they are correct or to modify them in order to translate accurately the phrase.

Translation Memories and Terminology

It is important to understand the difference of a translation memory and a terminology tool. Translation memories are comprised of segments or translation units. Segments are normally a chunks (or strings) of words that can be either part of a sentence or a full sentence. A terminology tool, however, involves using a database of fewer words representing nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs or even longer idiomatic expressions that should be translated a certain way depending on the context.

To illustrate, “the cat is brown” will likely be picked up as segment that once translated would become part of the translation memory. In conjunction, you can also use a terminology tool that will identify “cat” as a term of art that should be translated a certain way in a given content. Terminology tools primarily help improve quality and consistency, and are not utilized to bring down costs. Further, they can speed up the translation process by providing a quick reference to a set of pre-translated terms that normally would require research. While they are a various number of translation tools, they often are utilized together to improve the overall quality of a medium to large translation project.