CAT tools: Support but not replace human translators (ENG)


A Global and ever changing society, with languages and dialects constantly evolving, cannot settle for anything less than a translation system able to keep up with such changes.  It is becoming increasingly necessary to translate websites in several languages; not only for e-commerce deal makers that aim at increasing their number of buyers, but also to make ideas and information of all kinds available to a wider public.

Translation is a fundamental tool for telecommunications of big agencies and corporations, as well as individuals.

Therefore, the demand in the translation market is steadily growing and, as often happens in such cases, people tend to prefer the cheaper “do it yourself” way, rather than good and professional services. This produces impoverished content and creates many misunderstandings in the final translation.  It is not the purpose of this article to talk in detail about automatic translation softwares, the so called: “Machine translation”, that bypasses human intervention, obtaining very often odd results, that perhaps facilitate the understanding of a particular text, but cannot at all be used for the professional publication of such content.

We must not confuse the aforementioned methods with the very well-known software assisted translations, or CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation), that allow professional translators to automatize part of the translation process by using translation memories that store segments of text or words that have already been translated in previous projects.

Among the most used CAT tools, is worth to mention: Déjà Vu, Transit and Trados, “These are potentially valid supports for a translation project that nevertheless must be handled and managed by a professional translator”, told us Andrea, a translator specialized in user manuals.  “The professional translator must understand the subject and research carefully the content of the text that he/she is translating. This is something that no software is able to do”. He continues: “I was recently translating some regulations that had been implemented within active laws of the European Rights, introduced in recent years, for one of the main companies for the supply of electricity.  In such cases, in order to ensure that the information is properly translated into another language, it is necessary to study the regulations involved”.

Another limitation that the automatic translation process presents, is the inability to contextualize the message and to make it understandable to the target audience. This, in fact, influences the construction of sentences, the choice of terminology as well as the punctuation used.  “If the content that I’m translating is targeting industry experts, I must adapt the language to such audience to be able to render satisfactorily the original message.  But this is not the case of marketing or advertisement translations, which target a wider and more universal audience”.

We can therefore conclude that the professional translator can and must take advantage of the technological tools and software available to improve and speed up the service offered; but it is also extremely important to have a profound knowledge of the target culture and language which only a real expert is able to offer.

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