Automatization is working its way into every area of human activity, and translation is no exception. Will robots take the place of translators?

08 / 01 / 2019
Automatization is working its way into every area of human activity, and translation is no exception. Will robots take the place of translators?
Automatization is working its way into every area of human activity, and translation is no exception. Will robots take the place of translators? In the foreseeable future – definitely not. Human language is such an unbelievably complex system. Using it accurately and effectively demands knowledge of, among other things, human society, culture and the world in general. Nonetheless, computers, and especially CAT tools (‘computer-assisted translation’ or ‘computer-aided translation’), make the work significantly easier. Let’s see how it’s done.

How do CAT tools work?

CAT tools is a catch-all term for the specialized computer programs used in the translation process. They are used primarily in the translation of large specialist texts, manuals, instructions, catalogues and package leaflets, for example. Their use in more literary texts is less frequent – here the translator continues to do all the heavy lifting.
The core function of the most commonly used CAT tools is translation memory. The translated text is stored as the translator works, gradually building up an extensive database of sentences and phrases combined with the relevant translation. If an already translated sentence or a near equivalent appears repeatedly in the text, the translator no longer needs to retranslate it; instead, the programme will automatically offer her or him the stored translation, which the translator can subsequently draw on. The translation memory is naturally available to other translators who may be working on the project simultaneously, or who will be working on it in future. With an ever-expanding translation memory, all subsequent translations can be executed more quickly and simply.

Other important functions of CAT tools

Translation memory is not the only ace CAT tools have up their sleeves. These tools facilitate working with much more demanding file formats (HTML, XML, JSON, or desktop publishing formats like Adobe InDesign, FrameMaker, QuarkXPress and others) that would otherwise require considerable effort to translate. They also have numerous other useful functions, for example:
  • Automatic grammar and spelling checks: if you write in a text editor like MS Word, you too probably enjoy a similar function;
  • Automatic formal translation checks: Checks the correct use of numbers, punctuation, brackets and quotation marks, the length of the text, its consistency, use of terminology, etc.;
  • Term database: A list of translations for specific specialist terms that occur within a text. Whenever these terms crop up, the program will offer the relevant translation;
  • Full-text search engine: unlike Google, these search engines don’t search online, but trawl the databases of translation memories. Here, they try to find already translated snippets of text that match those parts of the text currently being translated. This helps achieve consistent use of terminology and also accelerates the entire translation process.

What CAT tools should never be mistaken for

CAT tools are NOT a synonym for machine translation. With CAT tools, you continue to have working on your behalf a human being – a specialist in the linguistic field into which she or he is translating. They are merely the tools of human translators, helping them in their profession. A machine translation, on the other hand, automatically renders text from one language to another based on computer algorithms.

Server and cloud solutions

One invaluable advantage of modern server- or cloud-based CAT tools is the option to share translation memories, term databases, and unfinished translations in real time. This means several translators can very effectively work on a single project simultaneously.

Why CAT tools might be your ideal solution

As you’ve no doubt gathered from reading the above, using translation memory makes translation quicker and easier to do. Thanks to this, we can deliver your translation faster and with a discount. Other functions, such as term databases or the formal and grammatical checking of texts, markedly help improve translation quality. And the possibility to process numerous complex file formats means you don’t have to needlessly copy text manually from your own SW into Word, and repeat the process in reverse once the translation is complete. Simply send us the source text in the format you generally work with and we’ll deliver you the translation in the same format.
Here’s the long and short of it: by using CAT tools you get a top-quality translation that you don’t have to wait long for, at a reasonable price, and without any needless work on your part.


What CAT tools do we use when working for you?

At Aspena we use the cutting-edge server tools memoQ server and Across Language Server, as well as many others.
These days, no-one who takes high-quality technical translation seriously can get by without using CAT tools. If you want a first-class translation at an affordable price and within an acceptable deadline, we’re here to help. We use modern translation technology when creating texts for all our illustrious customers, and we’re happy to employ our know-how working for you.
Jana Tocháčková
Jana Tocháčková