To CAT or not to CAT

First of all, let's clarify what a CAT is.

Translators use the term CAT to refer to Computer Assisted Translation. When translators and interpreters talk amongst ourselves, we know exactly what we are referring to, but others don't quite understand this concept so well. Many people think that translators run their clients' texts through a program and out comes the translation!! Not exactly, in fact, not even close.

CATs are programs that assist us when we are working. In the same manner that we now use word processing programs, where our predecessors used typewriters and their predecessors used pens, we use CATs to help us remember the way we translated terms and phrases.

The process involves creating a Translation Memory (TM) for each of client. So whenever a client sends me a text, I open the file to be translated, as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation viewer or the like, along with the TM I have created (or am creating). I then begin to translate the text and whenever I find a term that I have translated before, I search for it within the TM and the program shows me all the times it has previously come up as well as my translations for it.

It's also a great tool for recurring texts, when the translation involves highly repetitive phrases since the TM shows you how it had been translated before.

I am currently part of a huge project sent to me by a local translator. There are about five or six people working on it, so the TM comes in very handy to make sure that the text is uniform and the same terms are used throughout.

I highly recommend using CATs, since they do simplify our work. They are great tools, but as any tool, it is up to the operator to have the skills and abilities to do great work.

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