A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer-Aided Translation [Infographic]

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Of all the different types of automated translation services available on the market today, machine translation (MT) makes the most sense for global expansion on a budget. It’s fast, it’s inexpensive, and it requires zero human input. That is, until post-editing is needed to smooth out errors.

As language is so complex, we can’t always rely on computer intelligence to accurately interpret the meaning behind text (think reverse translation in Google Translate). That’s not to say you should rule out this approach—MT is a great option for turning over large volumes of lower level content in an instant, and is evolving quickly. But for more complex or mission-critical projects, inaccuracies in machine translated content can compromise time efficiency.

That’s where computer-aided translation (or CAT) comes in: Instead, you’re relying on human expertise enhanced by computerized tools. This infographic explains how it works.

computer-aided translation (CAT)

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)

Computer-aided translation (CAT) is a form of human translation supported by specialized software. The technology assists a translator’s tasks by providing translations for phrases or sentences that they have translated before—thereby increasing productivity. In fact, a CAT tool is one of the most critical in a translator’s arsenal.

That’s the short version of how CAT helps to process source content into the target file a customer sees. But how exactly does the tool function?

How Computer-Aided Translation Works

1. Engineers prep files for translation by extracting translatable content from the source files.

2. Prepped source content is uploaded to a cloud-based CAT tool.

3. CAT tool leverages the translation memory (TM) to recycle previously translated content.

4. The tool also links to any available terminology database or glossary and provides suggestions to translators as they work to ensure consistency in translation.

5. Translations are reviewed and edited by human translators and returned to project managers.

6. All translated segments and source language equivalents are stored in the TM.

7. Target file is generated by the CAT tool.

8. Engineers finalize the target files produced by the CAT tool to ensure that the final translated file matches the source file’s formatting, layout, functionality, and settings.

9. Target files are shared with the customer for review and approval.

CAT tools are essential for improving translation efficiency. Unlike machine translation—which is lightning-fast, but requires rigorous post-editing—CAT is a complete and accurate method that still allows for rapid turnaround. Here’s why it works so well in localization:

Increased production, less time. Successful localization generally involves a bulk of material, which needs to be translated to a high standard in a short amount of time. CAT tools, through their use of TM, make this possible.

Reduced cost. As large quantities of text are translated over time, the TM stores more and more previously translated material. In other words, you’re paying for less content to be translated from scratch.

Consistency. For technical documents, especially, consistent terminology throughout is crucial. CAT tools allow translators to use terms consistently by referencing standardized glossaries.

Quality of work. CAT tools offer a high level of accuracy, aiding the translator with built-in quality assurance checks such as auto-correct, grammar checking, and flagging of inconsistencies or missing translations.

Optimized workflow. Managing translation projects is effortless—not only because of increased productivity and quality assurance, but because project managers can scope out and oversee multiple jobs within one user-interface.

CAT software is just what’s needed to facilitate an otherwise cumbersome translation process, which is why it’s already an indispensable part of many companies’ global communication efforts. When developing your own localization strategy, consider how CAT fits in to help achieve faster time-to-market.

Lionbridge streamlines translation processes—while delivering the highest levels of language consistency and translation quality—through its real-time translation memory platform, Translation Workspace™. Learn more about the platform’s capabilities in multilingual localization projects.

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