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CAT Tools and Translation Memory

The advantages of Computer Aided Translation(CAT) Tools

  • They maintain uniform terminology – even if the consequent translation is done by another translator
  • They speed up the translation significantly - previously translated parts are not translated again, just checked
  • They lower translation price significantly; especially with periodically updated texts or repetitive structure (you do not pay for a translated and repeated term twice)
  • They do not distort either the graphic or text structure
  • They allow importing of most known text and graphic formats, and their consequent exporting in the same appearance as the original

A CAT tool breaks texts into segments (sentences or sentence fragments) and presents the segments in a convenient way, to make translating easier and faster. In some tools, for example MetaTexis, each segment is presented in a special box, and the translation can be entered in another box right below the source text.
The translation of each segment is saved together with the source text. Source text and translation will always be treated and presented as a translation units (TU). You can return to a segment at any time to check the translation. There are special functions which help to navigate through the text and to find segments which need to be translated or revised (quality control).
The main function of a CAT tool is to save the translation units in a database, called translation memory (TM), so that they can be re-used for any other text, or even in the same text. Through special "fuzzy search" features the search functions of CAT tools can also find segments which do not match 100%. This saves time and effort and helps the translator to use consistent terminology.

Computer-assisted translation and machine translation

Some advanced computer-assisted translation solutions include controlled machine translation (MT). Integration of MT into computer-assisted translation has been implemented in various ways by various parties, especially by the language industry. Although this type of technology is neither widely known nor available to individual translators, carefully customized user dictionaries based on correct terminology significantly improve the accuracy of MT, and as a result, they improve the efficiency of translation process.

Translation memory software Translation memory (TM) programs store previously translated source texts and their equivalent target texts in a database and retrieve related segments during the translation of new texts.

Such programs split the source text into manageable units known as "segments". A source-text sentence or sentence-like unit (headings, titles or elements in a list) may be considered a segment, or texts may be segmented into larger units such as paragraphs or small ones, such as clauses. As the translator works through a document, the software displays each source segment in turn and provides a previous translation for re-use, if the program finds a matching source segment in its database. If it does not, the program allows the translator to enter a translation for the new segment. After the translation for a segment is completed, the program stores the new translation and moves onto the next segment. In the dominant paradigm, the translation memory, in principle, is a simple database of fields containing the source language segment, the translation of the segment, and other information such as segment creation date, last access, translator name, and so on. Another translation memory approach does not involve the creation of a database, relying on aligned reference documents instead (e.g. SDL Trados or [Star Transit]).

Some translation memory programs function as standalone environments, while others function as an add-on or macro to commercially available word-processing or other business software programs. Add-on programs allow source documents from other formats, such as desktop publishing files, spreadsheets, or HTML code, to be handled using the TM program.

Language Search Engine Software New to the translation industry, Language Search Engine software is typically an Internet based system that works similarly to Internet search engines. Rather than searching the Internet, however, a language search engine searches a large repository of Translation Memories to find previously translated sentence fragments, phrases, whole sentences, even complete paragraphs that match source document segments. It leverages more from translation memories than traditional translation memory software.
Language search engines are designed to leverage modern search technology to conduct searches based on the source words in context to ensure that the search results match the meaning of the source segments. Like traditional TM tools, the value of a language search engine rests heavily on the Translation Memory repository it searches against.

Terminology management software     Terminology management software provides the translator a means of automatically searching a given terminology database for terms appearing in a document, either by automatically displaying terms in the translation memory software interface window or through the use of hot keys to view the entry in the terminology database. Some programs have other hotkey combinations allowing the translator to add new terminology pairs to the terminology database on the fly during translation. Some of the more advanced systems enable translators to check, either interactively or in batch mode, if the correct source/target term combination has been used within and across the translation memory segments in a given project

Alignment software Alignment programs take completed translations, divide both source and target texts into segments, and attempt to determine which segments belong together in order to build a translation memory database with the content. Many alignment programs allow translators to manually realign mismatched segments. The resulting translation memory file can then be imported into a translation memory program for future translations..


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