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Are CAT tools machine translation?

Introduction #

This post is going to be short.

Computer-assisted translation tools, often abbreviated as CAT tools, are software or applications that “assist” linguists to translate, edit and proofread more effectively. It’s a useful tool for the linguists and project managers to monitor and manage the termbase, project details and translation progress all in one place.

Meanwhile, machine translation (MT) is an automated translation of texts and documents carried out by a computer. Simply put, you input something in the Source Language field, and the computer will automatically translate it for you in a blink of an eye. One of the most widely used MT engines is Google Translate.

So, back to the title of this post: Are CAT tools machine translation?
The answer is, obviously, no.

Definitions and key distinctions #

AspectCAT ToolsMachine Translation (MT)
DefinitionSoftware or application that assists linguists to translate, edit and proofread more effectively as well as letting the linguists and project managers monitor and manage the termbase, project details and translation progressAutomated translation of texts and documents which is generated by a computer, software or application
Involvement of human translatorsYesNo
Time taken to finish translationVaries, from hours to daysAlmost always instantly
Quality of the target textHighLow – Medium (Usually the longer the text, the lower the quality)
Follow-up steps after translationThe translated target text will then be edited and proofread by other human linguists just like in the normal TEP process.Normally, the machine-translated target text will then be edited and proofread by other human linguists for accuracy purposes. This process is known as Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE).

Benefits of using CAT tools #

Get work done faster #

One of the reasons why CAT tools are so popular among the translation industry is that it accelerates the whole translation process. Some of the notable functions such as auto-propagation, concordance search, QA check and comments feature are aimed to help save everyone’s time. No more going back and forth with emails to ask for confirmation regarding this string or that sentence, you can manage and complete everything in just one place.

Better quality of translations #

CAT tools are designed to store translation memory (TM), ensuring accuracy and consistency throughout the project and eventually producing higher quality translations in a shorter time. The translator, editor, proofreader and project manager would have access to the same set of glossary so you can rest assured that, say, “audience” will be translated as “penonton” instead of “audiens” in all your sales copies prepared for Malaysia’s market. You don’t have to worry about inconsistencies in terminology at all.

Conclusion #

CAT tools are powerful assistants in simplifying and optimizing the could-be-tedious translation process.

While CAT tools are useful, purchasing a CAT tool license can be quite expensive, especially when you don’t use it frequently. That’s why you should consider hiring a professional language service provider so you can save the cost. We work our projects with most of the offline and cloud-based CAT tools like SDL Trados, memoQ, Wordfast, Crowdin, Smartcat and many more.

You would never have to pay for our use of CAT tools when handling your project, because it simply doesn’t make sense. Why pay for the hanger and fitting room when you are shopping for clothes, right?

To find out which CAT tool is the most suitable one for your project, you may reach out to our CAT tools lover 😸 for more information.
In case you prefer to learn more about MTPE, feel free to contact our MTPE expert 🙋‍♀️🙋‍♂️ before deciding anything.
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