All translators at some point in their career come to face the fact that we simply cannot be experts in everything, and thanks to the world of technology which is advancing and progressing even as I write this article, we do not have to be. A profession that may even be deemed one of the oldest in the world has been seen to advance majorly since its beginnings all thanks to technology. New technologies have aided translators enormously, not only in ensuring quality and uniformity in their work, but above all in accelerating their productivity rate to the maximum.
CAT – Technologies translation
With regard to these new technologies, I am going to focus on CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools and their advantages in the world of translation. To truly comprehend a translator´s need said CAT tools, which focus on the storage and management of information, it is important to take into account that a major part of our work is indeed focused on doing our homework on the translation at hand. This may require seeking out parallel texts, searching through glossaries and specialized dictionaries or consulting experts on the topic all in search for the corresponding lexical terms. A translator must ensure that they are capable of expressing the original text in the target language so that it is understood in the specialized context in which the document belongs to.
Today it is therefore essential that a translator possesses reference points, not only in the form of secondary resources but also their own databases that are created and based on their knowledge and research, or that of other translators. Thanks to new technologies and translation tools, in a translation or a series of translations for the same project, a specifically sought out phrase may now be incorporated into the target text every time it appears, resulting in a consistent, reliable and standardized translation.
The two main CAT tools on the market are WORDFAST and SDL TRADOS, and are employed by the majority of freelance and in-house translators. Also referred to as translation memories and assisted translation tools, they principally work through employing elements or segments of texts that have already been translated and revised by a human, i.e. the translator and not a machine. Subsequently these pieces of translated text are then recovered in line with the match rate as proposed by the translator. Therefore only those elements that, for example, show a match 75% or more with the original shall be incorporated into the translation.
This method of work is particularly useful for translations belonging to the scientific and technical fields due to their high volume of specific terminology. These types of texts have a tendency to require specific lexical competence on the part of the translator, which once researched and validated by them, must be applied consistently throughout the entire document. In addition, these types of texts often come with requests from the customer´s themselves who may request for example, for their product to be referred to using certain terminology, and this therefore must also be respected and implemented throughout the entire text.
In addition, these tools offer translators a way in which to manage, control, store and reuse their linguistic resources, creating a memory which may be used for future projects and that in addition may be shared between translators that work in-house, as opposed to freelance. These so called “translation memories” can be used by the translator in any future translations they may undertake, whether they are for the same customer or simply on the same topic, and they may be updated and edited as the translator works.
One of these translation memories I have mentioned, Trados, also includes several applications in addition to the memory. For example its “Autosuggest” tool consists of a dictionary that works in the same way as those for predictive text on mobile phones to propose terms based on a series of factors. There is also an “Automatic Translation” option, which also works in a similar way tools such as google translate to give word suggestions when the memory does not return any matches. In addition the Trados TermBase can be used to import glossaries or terminological data bases to be included in the Autosuggest dictionary.
It is however, impossible to consider the use of said CAT Tools without contemplating if they do truly benefit the translator. Further to that which I have explained here, there are many other roads we could go down concerning translation and new technologies, including, the price of this software, the training necessary to truly get the most out of them and the time that a translator must invest in building up their data bases, dictionaries and memories in order to benefit from these endless technological resources available.
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