computer-aided translation

What is computer-aided translation and why it is different from machine translation

(Last Updated On: May 28, 2018)

These days, computer-aided translation tools are thriving in the professional language translation sector. It is a process which includes the use of software to assist individuals in translating any sort of document. In case of time limits, CAT tools can efficiently cut the translation time, enabling the translator to translate content in an appropriate timely manner.

Computer-aided translation vs machine translation

CAT tools were developed with the mean of making the translation process easier for its users by building and updating translation memory banks during the translation process. The main benefit of using CAT Tools is clearly the extreme gain in time and efficiency. It also minimizes the amount of manual entry work needed, thanks to the pre-translated grammatical and orthographic suggestions. For example, this type of software guarantees consistency when the same sentences or terms appear later in the text to be translated.

what are CAT tools

How it is Different than Machine Translation?

These two terms sound very identical, but there’s a very clear difference. It comes down to who’s finally responsible for a translation.

Computer-aided translation gives you the best of both worlds. Unlike Machine Translation (MT) where the computer does all of the work with a human translator sometimes checking the results, – CAT puts the human translator definitely in control.

The main difference between them is that with MT you can rely on the machine to do the translation job for you. With CAT the machine is simply taking care of the easily programmed parts of translation so you, the expert, can put the brain and experience to work on the more difficult and tricky aspects of any translation.

What about Machine Translation?

MT tries to fully replace the need of a human translator. CAT tools rely on translation memories planned to help and support a human translator in their work.

Documents that are translated using MT are run through software that automatically translates it in its entirety. Due to the limitations of MT at this current time, a document will surely not be useable after this step. There will be several grammar and syntax errors throughout, though the general idea of the document can surely be discovered at this time. To correct these errors, machine translated documents need to go through a process called “Post-Editing”.

The major disadvantage is lack of accuracy. Language is extremely multifarious and dynamic, and while this type of translation technology has enhanced greatly over the years, it will never be able to wholly accurately identify some sentences of the language and transfer them into target language.

difference from machine translation

Why CAT tools are better?

In contrast, CAT tools need a genuine, well-informed person to operate them. This type of translation is a complete translation. The final product can be used whenever critically accurate translations are needed. CAT Tools help the translator by offering translations for those idioms, terms and sentences that the linguist has previously translated. This method helps you do efficient work and a faster pace while still maintaining the extreme accuracy throughout the document.

In the end, computer-aided translation is the best way translations are done, while machine translation remains a toy of sorts.

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