Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) is a pretty broad phrase covering a lot of ground.
Benefits of CAT
There are three main ways that a good CAT system can always improve the translations you work on:
1. Terminology. When working on a translation we’re often directed to lengthy lists of terminology to use that are specific to the discipline or subject area being discussed. This can be quite a chore, going back and forth to make sure you’ve used the correct terminology in every possible spot. CAT can automate this process, flagging instantly every instance where terminology can be applied – as long as the terminology lists are supplied electronically!
2. Consistency. It’s happened to the best of us: In a lengthy document translation that takes a lot of time to work through, you suddenly change your mind about a phrase or word and start translating it differently halfway through. This isn’t necessarily wrong, but within a discrete work consistency is very important. A CAT system can easily flag places where you’ve been inconsistent with your choices, allowing you to easily correct them.
3. Proofreading. Some might think of this as quality control, but it’s really proofreading: A CAT system can automatically scan your work and identify places where you have mistranslated numbers, made simple typos, or have incorrect punctuation. You can be the most brilliant translator in the world, but if your work is turned in riddled with simple errors, you won’t get a second job, and a CAT system can help.
Another aspect of working in a CAT environment is the fact that we’re all living and working in the computer age, and as a result we’re expected to receive and deliver everything digitally. By working in a CAT system we can take advantage of this by having automatic backups of our work, so we’re guaranteed to never lose an assignment again.
Another advantage of working digitally is the concept of Cloud Computing, allowing us to start work in our home office, resume work the next day on a train barrelling to a meeting, and finish up in a hotel room. Having your work automatically backed up and instantly available – along with all of your terminology, reference materials, and notes preserved exactly as you left them, is a huge advantage!
So, I have embraced CAT, as have almost every translation pro in the world. It’s truly one of those ways the modern world has improved everything.