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How fast do you translate using CAT?
Thread poster: Chris Miller (X)

Chris Miller (X)
United States
Local time: 01:56
Chinese to English
Mar 28, 2011

Hello translation professionals,

I'm interested to see how using CAT has boosted your translation speed. Would anyone like to share words per hour speeds with and without using their favorite CAT tool?

I translate a lot of Chinese to English and am curious if there are other ProZ members out there that would like to comment, particularly on this language pair, but others are certainly welcome.

Thanks!


 

Tony M
France
Local time: 07:56
Member
French to English
+ ...
Personally, I don't find it saves me much time at all Mar 29, 2011

I don't use CAT a great deal, so the problem is likely to be as much as anything my own lack of experience. I suspect too that any time saving is going to be highly dependent on the actual type of material being translated.

Translating from FR > EN, I use Wordfast Classic, as I like its intuitive approach and the relatively short learning curve (at least to get started).

The kind of work I do usually involves very few if any actual repeated segments, so 'translate until not 100% match' doesn't usually get me very far!

However, there is a lot of repeated terminology, and particularly where these are longer words or phrases where the word order changes between FR and EN, I find the glossary feature the most useful and time-saving, especially as it avoids my making typing errors that will take time to correct later!

Sadly, though, the time that this saves me is largely lost again in fiddling around dealing with the problems caused by the CAT tool itself; this includes correcting bad segmentation (often as a result of defects in the source document) and dealing on an individual basis with in-segment formatting.

Overall, I find the time saved is relatively negligible, and certainly cannot be relied upon in terms of costing and scheduling.

But I would emphasize that this is very largely because of the nature of the work I do.

On my latest document, I have found that the most productive technique was simply to use Word's own 'search-&-replace' function to replace technical (and other!) terms as I went along and encountered them; using this method, by the time I reached the end of the document, large chunks of it were almost fully translated and at worst needed just the word order changing. This I did indeed find has saved me a great deal of time, despite the rather unergonomic operation! It's a bit like using just the glossary feature of Wordfast, without bothering with all the segmentation nonsense!

I would really love it if someone could come along and automate this feature for me (Yves C.?) — a way of marking a word encountered as a 'placeable', entering its translation, and then choosing the option of replacing it globally thereafter, or being offered it for manual validation each time it recurs. THIS would save me personally a HUGE amount of time!

[Modifié le 2011-03-29 07:48 GMT]

[Modifié le 2011-03-29 07:49 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Tell us more about your work Mar 29, 2011

Can you tell us more about your work? What topics / kinds of files / contents do you translate?

That can give us an indication of how much faster you can get with a CAT tool.


 

Lori Cirefice  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:56
French to English
same speed Mar 29, 2011

For me, speed depends on how much research I have to do, the difficulty of the text, etc. Yesterday I only did 900 words, but some days I can reach up to 3000. The CAT tool really doesn't change anything speed-wise, except for projects where there are a lot of repetitions, then there is a clear benefit.

The real benefit of a CAT tool is the segmentation, glossary, and context search features.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
CAT tools don't boost translation speed but they might increase production speed. Mar 29, 2011

Huge difference. CAT tools are great whenever you have to deal with ever-occurring phrases, such as boilerplate paragraphs in press releases or mind-numbing repetitive headlines or phrases in manuals or websites. Honestly - this doesn't have much to do with translation. CAT tools help you to get the job done faster. They don't help you thinking up new translations faster.

So, strictly and in purist thinking they don't make you a faster translator.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
Addendum Mar 29, 2011

They can slow you down like crazy. Especially when you have to type around moronic and countless tags that simply are supposed to indicate the non-native typesetter which words are supposed to be bold or which number is supposed to be superscript. Don't ask...


Edited for typo

[Edited at 2011-03-29 10:04 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 07:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Nicole is so right! Mar 29, 2011

The texts I translate are also the type that give very few 100% matches. Sometimes the fuzzy ones are more hindrance than help - even with Trados's blotchy colour system, it often takes me twice as long to work out where the 25% difference is as to translate the whole segment from scratch.

But I am old enough to remember the days when we typed out wordlists and swapped glossaries with colleagues. I was always behind with terminology work, and always regretting it...

The concordance and glossary functions of a CAT are potentially very effective ways of keeping track of all sorts of information, often the sort that is client-specific or difficult to find by googling or in dictionaries.

You can type in names, correctly spelled, once and for all, and then the CAT will insert them for you without further hassle.

I have just updated a TM all the way through to remove an 'alternative' translation of a component in a product, and insert the one the client prefers.

I don't translate faster, but I do use the background features, and I am fairly sure my work is more consistent and better quality.


 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
From 10 to 90 percent Mar 29, 2011

It depends on you work. When working for years for the same customer and the same kind of subjects you get sometimes a great boost and a nice surprise: "Oh, did I really translate this same stuff already in 2006?"
Anyhow I do even single sentences with a CAT-tool, but at the moment with a 350 slide Powerpoint file I wouldn't know where I would get without one. The tool (hopefully) finds all chunks of text and puts it nicely into a table instead you searching for it.


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
The things from 2006 Mar 29, 2011

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

It depends on you work. When working for years for the same customer and the same kind of subjects you get sometimes a great boost and a nice surprise: "Oh, did I really translate this same stuff already in 2006?"
Anyhow I do even single sentences with a CAT-tool, but at the moment with a 350 slide Powerpoint file I wouldn't know where I would get without one. The tool (hopefully) finds all chunks of text and puts it nicely into a table instead you searching for it.


If you can reuse wording and phrasing that is half a decade old, I truly envy you. With every generation of marketing managers at my high tech clients, the terminology changes - and my carefully built up TMs are rendered useless. For whatever reason my customers turn into long-term clients, I have outlived up to 4 generations of people in charge, and each of them will scold me for using the outdated terminology of their predecessor.


 

Jean-Pierre Artigau (X)
Canada
Local time: 01:56
English to French
+ ...
See statistics Mar 29, 2011

For a number of years I've kept statistics on my "productivity". Here are the results for my two main clients. These are words per hour.

Client......with Trados 2009.......without Trados 2009

nr 1.............257........................266
nr 2.............193........................200

During those years I actually did most texts with Trados. I chose not to use Trados in relatively few cases (about 10 %) when I didn't expect a similar content to reappear in the future. This was a totally subjective choice, but the two sets of texts (with Trados and without Trados) had a slightly different content, which would tend to invalidate the comparison.

However I think using Trados makes your terminology and phraseology more consistent (when several texts are on the same subject).

Trados is also great when your client keeps sending you a series of "updated" versions of the source text as you are translating the same text. Then you just "plug in" the latest version and translate only the changes.

But on the average using Trados actually slowed me down.

Jean-Pierre


[Edited at 2011-03-29 13:37 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-03-29 15:27 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Still no information about your work? Mar 30, 2011

I think we cannot reply without that information. You have the ball!icon_smile.gif

 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:56
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
If source doesn't change... Mar 30, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

If you can reuse wording and phrasing that is half a decade old, I truly envy you. With every generation of marketing managers at my high tech clients, the terminology changes - and my carefully built up TMs are rendered useless. For whatever reason my customers turn into long-term clients, I have outlived up to 4 generations of people in charge, and each of them will scold me for using the outdated terminology of their predecessor.


If the same text is still good after 5 years in the source language should we necessarily change our translation? Doesn't quite make sense to me. Of course one's style has changed, and if I come up with a better formulation I will adjust.

Not that these cases are very common, but they happen.


 

Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:56
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
My speed Mar 30, 2011

I can't say how much my speed changes as a result of using a CAT (WordFast Classic in my case) but I do prefer it in practice.
Example of actual speed: My most recent completed job was about 14500 words, moderately but not highly technical German to English and generating 17000 words of English (expansion factor 18%). My overall average speed was 347 words/hour target text, including my administration and review time, which were about 10% of the total time.

As Lori wrote, the real benefits may not be purely to increase translation speed (though there is some of that) but the segmentation and context search (in this particular job, the glossary didn't give me much help).

Oliver


 

PT Translati (X)
United States
Local time: 22:56
Japanese to English
"moronic and countless tags" lol Mar 30, 2011

Agree with Nicole on this one. That tags issue is quite frustrating at times, but I believe it's a necessary evil for the system to work.

With that said, I will break it down as follows:

1. PPT/Excels with many repetitions- It definitely speeds things up and helps to keep things organized. Just the thought of translating PPT's without it and having to go into each section to overwrite it makes me cringe. Also I have one client that counts everything. Without going into detail, let's just say it saved me a lot of timeicon_wink.gif

2. Long word documents with few repeats - Pretty useless to be honest. Maybe it's my language combo, or how the segmentation is set up; but the likelihood of even a 40% match is zero. Also the chance that a segment from one document matching in a future document, is still pretty much zero (regardless how large a TM you build up - it just won't happen). About the only benefit I see is allowing for better organization, creating your personal glossary, and easier checking.

My main complaint:

The manuals are written for those that have previous experience with CATs. I understand there is a cost issue with creating more detailed, "dummy" instructions; but more "beginner friendly" instructions would lead to more users. These need to be written as if the user has NEVER SEEN or used CAT software before. I can understand that time and patience is needed to learn the software, and I have for basic needs. But that took quite a lot of time.

...so to make the long story short....looks like my love hate relationship with CAT will be everlasting
icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2011-03-30 16:32 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-03-30 16:39 GMT]


 

Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:56
English to German
+ ...
@ Heinrich Mar 31, 2011

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

If the same text is still good after 5 years in the source language should we necessarily change our translation? Doesn't quite make sense to me. Of course one's style has changed, and if I come up with a better formulation I will adjust.

Not that these cases are very common, but they happen.


I absolutely agree with you. Here are a few examples of changes in day-by-day terminology that I can post here without revealing the client (I keep a spread sheet on the wall in my office, the outdated terms however keep popping up in the TMs and it takes a lot of time keeping an eye on it):


bump test = formerly: Reaktionstest --> now: Funktionstest

portable = formerly: portabel --> formerly: transportabel --> currently: tragbar

stationary = formerly: festinstalliert --> formerly: ortsfest --> currently: stationär


 
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