CAT tools – A revolution in the golden age of translation

Ever since the introduction of the computer, the work of the translator has been gradually evolving. Current technology has become indispensable to them. Even if a translator can still be referred to as a craftsman of communication, whose essential instruments are a sound knowledge of the language and a good dictionary, the use of technological aids – as in many other professions – has become part and parcel of their work. They don’t just speed up and simplify the process, they also help to improve the quality of the final product.


Translators probably receive the most help from what are called CAT tools. This acronym stands for “Computer Aided Translation”. These programmes allow the translator to carry out a wide range of procedures that would be impossible without this technology.


The advantages:



  • CAT tools enable the document designated for translation to be analysed in a fraction of a second, during which the total number of words and repetitions are calculated, resulting in a precise outline of how much time and cost will be required for the process.
  • The programmes break up the document into several segments (sentences), and the translator is presented with the text in the form of a table. This juxtapositioning of the texts makes both the translation and checking processes far simpler.
  • CAT tools are equipped with an automatic quality-check facility (QA), thus helping to avoid the careless mistakes.
  • The programmes allow translations to be saved into a TM (Translation Memory), which can be called up during future projects with just the click of a button. This is arguably the most important function of CAT tools, and this is also why it is hard to imagine a professional translation service without them.


These sophisticated programmes also allows the translator to compile a terminology data bank (Term Base), in which dictionaries, glossaries and other reference texts can be gathered in order to increase concentration and productivity.

However this technology inevitably also has some drawbacks. The pitfalls of technology certainly count among the disadvantages of CAT tools. Mind you, using a computer doesn’t always work out the way you imagined it. As a result, time-related problems can sometimes emerge while creating the translation. However, these problems can be easily resolved if the project is assigned to an experienced translator, or a qualified IT team is available to lend a hand.



The various forms of CAT tool are indispensable in producing a professional translation. For translation agencies it is certainly worthwhile to acquire them, although not so much for individual companies, since a translation agency will make constant use of them, and be able to resolve any technical difficulties that arise with no problems at all.

The technology of CAT tools