information for novice translator please
Thread poster: Julia Akhurst
Jan 15, 2010


I would be very grateful if someone would explain to me how things like Word Fast work and which of the tools on offer is the best choice. Do these programs do a rough translation and you have to make improvements etc or do they help in some other way. What about specialist vocab, are there special dictionaries or other resources?

I've done some translations in the past but always 'by hand' and it's very time consuming. I'd like to do it more seriously now but for the money they pay there has to be a way to become more efficient and I'm struggling to make sense of the information I've found on the web!

Thank you very much,



Adam Łobatiuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
Member (2009)
English to Polish
+ ...
In a nutshell Jan 16, 2010

When you translate similar documents (for example from one client) you notice that they contain similar sentences or whole paragprahs. If they are identical (which you have to verify by comparing them visually), you can copy and paste your previous translation from another file. If they are similar but a little different, you need to make corrections after you copy and paste that text.

CAT tools like Wordfast or Trados do that job for you - they collect your translated sentences (or other text segments, like headings) and insert them for you in your new translation. If there are differences, they are highlighted so you know what to correct. In addition, their glossary modules can display the right vocabulary to be used in the curent text segment.

Obviously, you are free to make addidional corrections. Also, you can use translation memories and glossaries made by other people. Depending on your arrangements with the client, you may be asked to review other people's translations coming from the translation memory or not be responsible for them at all.

As far as glossaries are concerned, you can receive them from your client or use and compile your own - for example, you can convert an Excel file into a SLD Trados MultiTerm glossary.

The best CAT tool is usually the one you learned firsticon_smile.gif. They are all similar but also different and costly enough to make a switch difficult, and you want to believe yours is the best one. Since you are only beginning to use CAT tools, you might want to try demos offered by most manufacturers - Wordfast, Deja Vu, Swordfish. The amount of new terminology may be overwhelming, but try to focus on the support for the file format you work with, compatibility with other CAT tools and other things that are important to you. The price is not that important, because the investment pays off relly quickly.

Good luck.


Monika Elisabeth Sieger  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:50
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
How about Across? Jan 16, 2010

I started with Across some time ago as freelancers can download this program for free.
I quite like it, have tried MemoQ and Wordfast plus Snowball and always came back to Across.
Trados is not bad either but as a starter I would suggest that you give a go on one of the free versions of CAT tools first. Most of the programs allow a transfer of data from one system to the other at a later stage.
In my opinion Trados is very expensive and there is no possibility to give it a try before buying it.


Local time: 21:50
English to Greek
+ ...
Regarding Across... Jan 16, 2010

Is there a website where one can download Across from? I usually work with Wordfast but would like to try this one, as well...

Thank you in advanceicon_smile.gif


Celine H  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:50
English to French
+ ...
CAT tools don't do machine translation Jan 16, 2010


To answer your first question, CAT tools like Trados don't do machine (automatic) translation like Systran or Google translate, although the latest version fo SDL Trados gives this option only for certain language combinations.

People rely on it, because it memorises all sentences (segments) that you have translated before in a file called translation memory (TM). As previously said, it does automatically translate all repetitions + when you have two sentences that are not 100% identical but pretty much so, CAT offers you what is called a "fuzzy match" segment in which you can make the necessary amendments after the first has been translated.

Another advantage is "Concordance search" which is very useful if there is a technical term which you have spent hours researching. If the term has already been translated before, you can look-up for it in the TM with the "Concordance search" option.

CAT like Trados, SDLX, Wordfast etc. also gives you the option to create your own Termbase or import one from one of your clients, which is a glossary that you don't need to spend time looking up for because erverytime a term from the Termbase is found in a segments, it automatically appears on a sub-screen for you to apply it.

Both Termbases and TMs can be e-mailed by your client or agent as they are independent files although they may have to be sent in "Export files" but the reconversion is then very straightofrward.

It makes the work much less tedious when there are a lot of repetitions.

As for your other question, my favourite is definitely SDL Trados, but it is true, it is very expensive. Wordfast offer a free demo version online but they only allow TMs with 500 units maximum.

I hope that helps, good luck


Ramon Somoza  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
Member (2002)
Dutch to Spanish
+ ...
Some links to free tools Jan 18, 2010

Check out the Tools/CAT tools menu entry at

You will find there links to some free CAT tools. (The "Tools/Free tools" entry includes other types of free tools)

shiba wrote:

Is there a website where one can download Across from? I usually work with Wordfast but would like to try this one, as well...

Thank you in advanceicon_smile.gif

Check in the same place, there is a link to the Across personal edition, which is freeware.

Good luck.



Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:50
French to German
+ ...
Across? Jan 18, 2010

sivara wrote:

I started with Across some time ago as freelancers can download this program for free.
I quite like it, have tried MemoQ and Wordfast plus Snowball and always came back to Across.

AFAIK Across will only be useful for external purposes if your client also runs Across. This tool does not seem to allow data exchanges via e.g. open-source formats like TMX - hence it is worse than Trados when it comes to proprietary formats.

And as many other CAT tools, it runs "only" on Windows...


Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 20:50
English to Czech
+ ...
Across and the other CATs Jan 19, 2010

In my opinion, Across is not bad when it comes to having a free tool to start with. On the other hand, it's quite complicated (unintuitive) and the SQL Server Lite it installs if you want to use it as a standalone tool can slow your machine down considerably.

For a brief price comparison, see

(WordFast and Swordfish not included)


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