CAT Tools Explained

CAT Tools Explained

Translation of every kind and into many languages is a growing area of business. There are numerous ways to provide translation depending on exactly what is needed. While human translation is best for larger selections of material, a simple phrase or short paragraph may be fine when translated using a CAT Tool, otherwise known as a Computer Assisted Translation Tool/Software.

CAT tools have altered the way in which translators work significantly, as well as the way projects are managed. CAT tools allow translators to split multilingual documents into sections that are then stored in a database of sorts. This is known as the translation memory which means it has previously been translated and can be reused at any time the user desires. The use of CAT tools speeds up translation work and increase productivity in the global markets.

This means CAT tools are used to translate faster to meet customer demands and meet shorter deadlines. CAT tools make it easier to translate repeated phrases that are found throughout a document or book and the more items translated over time, the smarter the tool becomes. This helps even more over time. These tools also create consistency and accuracy in terminology keeping a document accurate.

Common CAT Software

There are five common CAT tools that are essential when producing quality translations that are computer-assisted. While there are different versions of each tool, it would be up to the user to compare cost and efficiency for common products in their area of need.

Translation Memory Software

Translation memory software is likely the most well-known CAT tool. It divides the text into sections or segments as the translation is occurring and stores the already translated material in a database. When a section or phrase is recognized by the database in a new part of the translation, the software suggests that the former translation be used. While some translation memory programs do not work this way, many do. Others use preloaded reference documents to provide options when translating.

Language Search Engine Software

Language search engines are most like regular search engines, but instead of looking up an item you search for, it searches a large database of the translation memory. So basically, a phrase will be searched for an equivalent in the target language.

Terminology Management Software

Though not as common, terminology management software is another CAT tool. This is a program that the translator can use to do auto-searches of terms in a document or database. Some programs allow the translator to add stuff such as new word pair matches and verify text through a variety of functions. Then, the translator can check whether the term is correctly translated consistently in the draft. This is available in programs like Termex and LogiTerm.

Alignment Software

Text alignment software offers the translator the ability to build a translation memory using both the source and destination in a text. The software divides the dual texts into sections and attempts to decide which sections agree. The results can then be imported into memory software for the future. This can be handy for professional translators.

Interactive Machine Translation

Interactive machine translation is comparable to predictive text on a phone. As you translate or type, the program tries to predict what the translation would be in a typical phrase or sentence. This is not likely to be as useful on longer translations, but maybe effective for phrases or short paragraphs that had common phraseology.


CAT tools can be useful, but should not take the place of a trained, professional translator. This is especially true in niche markets in which terminology requires specificity. Fields such as medical, technical, or Christian translation in which word meanings and order are imperative, should have limited CAT tool use. While human translation will always be the best option, when it comes to professional translation services, the augmentation offered by CAT tools can shorten the translation process

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