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Introduction to Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) Tools

Tabea De Wille writes about the essential pieces and functions of CAT Tools.

Computer-assisted translation tools, also called CAT tools, operate by storing translations in a so-called translation memory. When we then want to translate a file, the CAT tool retrieves previous translations that are either exactly the same or similar and offers them to the translator who can then decide whether the sentence needs re-translating from scratch or whether only the changes need to be edited. This is beneficial for designing processes in an agile and continuous environment because it makes it somewhat less important that we avoid having to make changes to previously done translations.

By using CAT tools, the changed sentence would not be as expensive to retranslate as it would be when translating from scratch. However, even with the use of CAT tools, there is still a cost associated, and the timing of the translations can become an important decision factor as localizing too early might result in re-work or work not being used, while leaving it too late can mean delayed localization or a lot of pressure on the localization team.

Article by Tabea De Wille, University of Limerick, Dept. of Computer Science & Information Systems

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