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Poll: On what percentage of your work do you use CAT tools?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Sep 30, 2005

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "On what percentage of your work do you use CAT tools?".

This poll was originally submitted by Walter Landesman

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Sueg  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 21:03
German to English
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Eye-Opener Sep 30, 2005

Most interesting statistics thus far. In general one is led to believe that without a CAT tool one has no chance of getting work these days. For me these statistics belie that hypothesis, unless all the translators who don't have one (and are therefore out of work) have had more time to take part in the poll. I for one, would be most interested in hearing other translators comments to these percentages. Thanks for the poll.

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Walter Landesman  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 16:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
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Do you use CAT tools for your translations? Sep 30, 2005

CAT Tools (TRADOS, SDLX, FASTWORDS, etc.) have become very popular among translators and agencies. Furhermore, some agencies very often require the use of some of these tools in order to asign the job.
On the other hand, some colleagues believe that CAT tools cannot replace "human translations" for consistency and accuracy. I`d like to know what you think about this, guys.

Walter


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Anabel Martínez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Of course they can't replace human translation Sep 30, 2005

Basically, because with a human fillin the TM, there's nothing to do!

They can be a great aid for certain types of texts and for the coherence of terminology. However, this is also their main problem: errors are also coherently perpetuated within TM if one doesn't take the time to polish them!


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:03
French to English
Search and Replace Sep 30, 2005

I confess my experience is limited to a few hours playing with the free version of Wordfast. But I found it difficult to get to grips with, to be honest. All I really want to see is a glorified "search and replace" function, that will look through the glossaries I've built up and *suggest* terms/phrases I've used before. But it seems more complicated than that. And the amount of postings on this site from translators having all sorts of problems, some quite serious, is not exactly an incentive.

I tend to agree with Fuad Yahya's posting here:
http://www.proz.com/topic/37350


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:03
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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I have one Sep 30, 2005

Sueg wrote:

Most interesting statistics thus far. In general one is led to believe that without a CAT tool one has no chance of getting work these days. For me these statistics belie that hypothesis, unless all the translators who don't have one (and are therefore out of work) have had more time to take part in the poll. I for one, would be most interested in hearing other translators comments to these percentages. Thanks for the poll.


but I don't notice an appreciable amount of clients asking me to use it (I'm on the lowest possible affirmative percentage). The UN did ask for it because they sent repetitive forms out (with the memories used), plus one or two insurance-related firms (they used stock contract phrases). Not everyone goes along with the X% for fuzzy matches, either.


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Latvian to English
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I'm glad to see I'm not the only one Sep 30, 2005

I too am (pleasantly) surprised at the results of this poll. I had started to think that I was one of only a few translators who doesn't use a CAT tool, and in fact none of my clients have expected me to use one (so far). I am fortunate enough to have more than enough work, so one of my excuses for not owning a CAT tool is that I don't know when I would find the time to learn how to use it and get to grips with all the technical intricacies.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:03
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
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Schlimmbesserung Sep 30, 2005

Although I have used SDLX in the past, I do not currently own any CAT tools for the simple fact that the vast majority of work I receive arrives in a format that is not machine-readable (PDFs, faxes, handwriting, etc.). Without the source text, the CAT is useless.

In addition, I work on a wide variety of texts and what little repetition I do encounter is easily resolved using Word’s copy and paste function (and then I get to decide what rate to charge for this). Even though I have been translating for 12 years, I can remember when I have translated something before.

I can certainly see the value of CAT tools for translators working on certain types of projects: updated computer manuals, inventory lists, etc. and the money-saving value of this tool for agencies. However, at the present time, all I would end up with would be a hard drive full of useless TM memories.

Another major problem is the outrageous price for the software and the fact that you have to purchase updates every x months at full price.

Other miscellaneous problems include:
- all of the technical headaches that some CAT tools seem to cause
- the number of different CAT tools available on the market
- the fact that you have to work with/accept someone else’s translation and adapt your work/style to theirs whether you like it or not
- you make less money

Also I often see jobs listing a CAT tool as a requirement for no good reason because there is no prior TM memory or any real need to have one in the future for this particular job.



[Edited at 2005-10-02 03:15]


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Cecilia Civetta  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:03
Member (2003)
Italian to Spanish
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Very interesting poll Sep 30, 2005

At least in my experience, once you get used to working with CAT tools, you can’t do without them anymore. They don’t necessarily save you time, but they really help you improve the quality of your work. I find them great to work on my own, or with a reliable team of translators. Now, when you start receiving TMs that are full of mistakes, that’s another story!

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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
Member
English
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Quina sorpresa! Sep 30, 2005

I was very surprised that the biggest single percentage so far represents people who have never used CAT tools. Are we all ostriches, sticking our head in the sand while the technological whirlwind rages around us?

As a general "dogsbody" translator, I have seldom needed to use them. Although agencies I deal with regularly are now pressurizing me into using Trados. (Even though, as I pointed out to the last one who asked me, the percentage of repetition of entire phrases in the texts I had been sent was virtually Zero. So, I didn't understand what their client thought they'd be gaining by having a Trados version of a one-off publicity campaign. ¿?-)

I tried Trados in a demo version and found it cumbersome and not very user-friendly. The learning curve seemed so steep and every hour spent on Trados was an hour lost translating (or playing the guitar. It definitely seemed a programme written by programmers rather than translators.

I have used Metatexis (written by a Translator who is also a programmer) for texts with a lot of repetition (Contracts, etc) and I found that more user friendly. Recent versions seem far more stable than the early versions and it works in Word and is very unobtrusive. It is also cheap and yet does the job. I believe it can even read Trados files, but I haven't tried that yet. For further details, see: http://www.metatexis.com/

However, I do think we will be behaving like ostriches if we just ignore CAT tools and hope they go away. As more and more agencies put the pressure on us to use them, I know I am going to have to capitulate one of these days just to stay in work. Plus, all those youngsters on Translation courses (like the one I teach on) are using them as second nature and they'll be out in the market competing with my "experience" before too long.

Of course, I would agree with any arguments about the "uniqueness" of human translations. But, CATs are here to stay, whether we like it or not and any of us who refuse to explore the territory are probably going to share the fate of the Brontosaurus and company.





[Edited at 2005-09-30 19:36]


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:03
English to Czech
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CAT tools Sep 30, 2005

Jana Teteris wrote:

I am fortunate enough to have more than enough work, so one of my excuses for not owning a CAT tool is that I don't know when I would find the time to learn how to use it and get to grips with all the technical intricacies.


Well, since you specialize in EU documents, you would be probably able to do you work much faster with a CAT tool. The productivity boost - with certain types of documents - is significant.


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Starting with CAT was my best decision Sep 30, 2005

Charlie Bavington wrote:

And the amount of postings on this site from translators having all sorts of problems, some quite serious, is not exactly an incentive.



Of course nobody would make a posting about his successes and progress using CAT. I'm a bit surprised reading all the postings here from people not using CAT but who still have plenty of "knowledge" and ideas about CAT...

Starting with CAT (Trados) was my best decision within this business, and I would really miss it now. Of course, CAT is not the nonplusultra if you think that you can let the software do all the job. TMs have to be checked, bad formatted source texts will have to be fixed before you can use the CAT but still you save a lot of time.

I am aware of the fact that using CAT would not be a very good idea if you often have to work from hard-copy, or if you often get just single jobs from a high number of clients (meaning there would hardly be any repetitive texts), but for my working situation it's really an advantage.

Saved time can be used for acquiring more clients (preferably end-clients who would pay far more than translating agencies), taking longer breaks or making a shopping tour. Getting more job done within shorter time, isn't that incentive enough, Charlie?

Regards
Erik

**********************************
Erik Hansson
Technical translator DE-SV
Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH
Am Birkenwäldchen 38
D-01900 Bretnig-Hauswalde, Germany
Phone +49 - 3 59 52 - 321 07
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ProZ profile http://www.proz.com/pro/21654
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writeaway  Identity Verified

Local time: 21:03
Partial member (2003)
French to English
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A surprising result indeed Sep 30, 2005

Am surprised that I am not alone in ignoring CAT tools. I only have one client who asked me to download SDLX lite for one job I do for her on a repeat basis. I don't have have an OS (yet) that can deal with it (they all require XP) and a small hand-created glossary would do the trick anyway.
I am particularly surprised by the result (is only about the 2nd poll I've bothered 'voting' in) because every time there is a 'group buy' there seems to be a kind of stampede to grab up the CAT tool on offer. Does this mean people 'own' them but don't 'use' them?
I too rarely have jobs that repeat and as for legalese, I prefer to exercise my own 'memory' rather than replace it with a virtual one.
Anyway, reading all the technical forums on Trados and co. is enough to discourage any sane person from even contemplating a CAT. The questions are positively terrifying, the answers are positively incomprehensible and it look like everything under the sun can and does go wrong. These CATS seem to need each of their nine lives and then some......


[Edited at 2005-09-30 20:29]


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:03
Latvian to English
+ ...
PDF files Sep 30, 2005

Hynek - thank you for your comment. However for the last year or so, almost all documents I have translated for the European Institutions have been provided in pdf format, so a CAT tool wouldn't be of much help.

I am not against CAT tools as such, but like so many others I am perhaps wary of all the technical aspects and trying to solve problems. But then again, I am ready to be converted

[Edited at 2005-09-30 21:09]


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 21:03
English to Czech
+ ...
PDF Sep 30, 2005

Jana Teteris wrote:

However for the last year or so, almost all documents I have translated for the European Institutions have been provided in pdf format, so a CAT tool wouldn't be of much help.


You are right, that's a problem. "How to open a PDF file in Trados" is one of the most frequent questions in the support forum. But there is a solution: using OCR and charging more for non-editable formats.

You are also right that all this stuff is sometimes quite technical. I'm just surprised how many people don't want to see the benefits. I can only agree with Erik above.


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