October 9, 2020 |
Computer-assisted translation (CAT tools) helps linguists to work better, faster, and at a lower cost. But if your concern is that you’ll end up paying translators to copy and paste content from Google Translate, you should know that’s not what CAT tools are for.
CAT tools suggest words and phrases, but you still need to go through each sentence and put elements together to create meaningful content. The software has useful characteristics that facilitate translation, with multiple benefits for linguists and their clients.
In a localization project, CAT tools are essential for creating the workflows necessary to deliver on time and make it seamless to track progress and review processes. They increase productivity and enable localization teams to collaborate for successful outcomes, among other benefits.
Here are five ways computer-assisted translation adds value to any localization project.
Prepping files for translation can become a time-consuming activity that adds unnecessary costs to your localization projects. If everyone in the team uses CAT tools, you no longer need to have everything turned into Microsoft Word files or Excel sheets.
One of the quick wins when using software is that it supports multiple file formats, from HTML and XML to InDesign. And, with the right connectors, you can streamline file transfer so that translators receive documents automatically.
Once you set a workflow, everyone gets instant access to files and can see any changes in real-time. You no longer need to send files using email or third-party file transfer services, and you can forget about spreadsheets and missing files or lost updates.
Localization projects often bring together translators from various geographical areas and time zones. If everyone works independently, communication is slow, and misunderstandings become routine. Even if your guidelines are straightforward, it’s still hard to ensure that all translators always use the right terms to describe the same concept.
Translators work with high volumes of content and aren’t always familiar with all the industry-specific terms in your niche. What may seem like obvious differences between two similar words can easily confuse people who don’t work with these terms every day. And even if they have experience in the industry, it’s still easy to get lost when you translate multiple types of texts in a short period.
CAT tools include useful tools that keep all translators on the same page when it comes to terminology usage. The most known is the Translation Memory (TM) where you can store all previous translations. You can also use terminology databases to put together digital glossaries of terms and phrases that make it easy for any linguist to use industry-specific terms in the correct context.
Everything is digital, so you can easily add or remove elements from this list, to keep translations relevant. This way, linguists will apply the same translation every time a specific word appears in the text to add clarity and facilitate understanding.
When all linguists in your localization team use the same TM in translation, it’s easier to secure consistency across tens or hundreds of pages of contracts, web content, and technical documentation.
One of the primary advantages of working with CAT tools comes from speeding up the translation process. As software reduces the need for manual file transfer and rewrites most of the content using previous translations, the linguists have more time to focus on preserving the exact meaning in translation and adding value to your localization project.
CAT tools provide translators with valuable suggestions for most of the text that needs to be translated. Some of these recommendations are highly accurate (exact match), while others are possible translations (fuzzy match). Depending on the context, translators will also handle new words that have no match in the database.
A rich TM provides suggestions for most of the words in the original text, which means translators don’t have to translate from scratch. The more valuable suggestions they receive from the CAT tool, the less time translators need to finish the translation. It’s that simple.
Sure, periodically, you need to check out that all records in your translation memory are accurate and 100 percent correct. This process is called TM maintenance and takes time, but you still get to speed up the overall localization project.
CAT tools aren’t perfect, as they process small units of text at a time and lack the overall context of the communication. That’s why you can’t rely exclusively on them for translation. They’re tools that deliver helpful information to support the translator’s work, but they can’t deliver error-free translations by themselves.
On the other hand, when used correctly, CAT tools reduce significantly the number of translation errors and inconsistencies. Linguists are less likely to interchange terms or use words inappropriately in a specific context when they have a translation memory available. At the same time, the software is highly accurate when it comes to listing the content, which means translators won’t miss any paragraphs or sentences on the way.
Sure, if the translation memory contains errors, they’ll most likely make it through to the final version of the translation. However, translators can always double-check with their project managers or your in-house experts to make sure they deliver high-quality work.
All the benefits of using CAT tools will also impact your overall localization costs. When you implement automatic file transfer, you save money and time on administrative tasks. Furthermore, as translators work faster and have fewer mistakes to correct, you’ll pay for a reduced number of working hours.
Depending on your language service provider, you could even get discounts if your content includes a high number of repetitions and duplicate content. That’s because they’ll show as exact matches in computer-assisted translations.
Sure, depending on the context and the complexity of your content, some translations will require more resources than others. After all, it’s still human translation and requires creativity, language skills, and cultural insights.