Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools
-This introduction to CAT tools has been written by the Mondo Agit agency-
Many of you will either be unfamiliar with CAT tools or unaware of the challenges that arise when translating web sites. This may be because you are still students, you are not professional translators or simply because it is not your area of expertise. In this section, we shall try to explain some of the basic ideas of CAT that may prove useful and make your work easier.
Translation Tools are tools which serve to help the translator in his or her translations. They can operate in any format, e.g. Word, Power Point, HTML, and essentially store segments of text in translation memories or databases of previously translated material. Thus, if a document is being translated and the tool happens upon a repeated portion of text, it calls on the database to suggest potential translations, based on the translator’s previous work.
This process can save the translator a great deal of time and helps to maintain coherence in his/her translations.
Examples of these translation tools are Trados and Wordfast. Wordfast is a free translation tool that can be easily downloaded from the internet, installed onto your computer and integrated as an application on the Word taskbar.
In order to use the program, a memory must be first created in which translations are stored. Source and target languages are also specified at this stage. The tool divides the text into segments. While you translate, the active translation memory updates itself and remembers the connection between the source text and your chosen translation.
Word count tools are also essential for translators. A specific word count tool is needed to count words. They are far more precise than other counters such as that of MS-Word, which cannot detect words within boxed text or words that are formatted differently. Thus, these tools have the ability to scan documents and give an exact count of the number of words in them. They can sometimes do this without opening the document, and are even capable of reading multiple documents at once. Examples of these are Practicount, Anycount or Webbudget. All of these tools must be paid for. However there is a free, downloadable version of Webbudget, ‘Freebudget’, available on-line. If you are looking for a free word count tool, Wordfast and Translation’s Abacus will also fit the bill.