Should I use a CAT tool ?
Thread poster: delphinedh

delphinedh
Local time: 20:44
Dutch to French
+ ...
May 19, 2011

Hello everybody,

I am in the process of starting as a translator. I have a university degree in languages but I am not a translator. I have little experience and have always worked without any CAT tool.

I would like to ask you if I should seriously consider buying a CAT tool. Did most of you start with one, or did you begin to use one along the way?

As I said, I am new to all this, so I don't know all the advantages of those tools.

Can you gi
... See more
Hello everybody,

I am in the process of starting as a translator. I have a university degree in languages but I am not a translator. I have little experience and have always worked without any CAT tool.

I would like to ask you if I should seriously consider buying a CAT tool. Did most of you start with one, or did you begin to use one along the way?

As I said, I am new to all this, so I don't know all the advantages of those tools.

Can you give me some advice, tips, ideas, thoughts about this matter?

Thank you very much!

Delphine
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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Start with one that is free May 20, 2011

The short answer to your question IMHO is yes.

Many agencies and clients use them, and you cut yourself off from a lot of potential work if you cannot handle them. I think there are many advantages, not only for clients, but for you.

The only CATs I know are Trados and Wordfast Classic, but there are lots of others, and many are free, or have good demo versions that are free.

The Classic version of Wordfast works very well for many of the basic funct
... See more
The short answer to your question IMHO is yes.

Many agencies and clients use them, and you cut yourself off from a lot of potential work if you cannot handle them. I think there are many advantages, not only for clients, but for you.

The only CATs I know are Trados and Wordfast Classic, but there are lots of others, and many are free, or have good demo versions that are free.

The Classic version of Wordfast works very well for many of the basic functions, and it is relatively easy to set up and understand. (I never managed to get the Pro version to work, and went back to Trados, but many who spend a little more time on it are very happy with it.)

Trados is more 'glossy', and as a beginner you will probably need help to start it up and learn how to use it. But the core functions are similar. Personally, I prefer it, but personal tastes and the types of texts you work with make a lot of difference.
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I use them to keep track of terminology.
You can also search for single words or short phrases in the database, in what is called a concordance.
Here you can call up previous occurrences, and see the whole sentence each time.
That can be useful in many ways to support consistency.

I even use the glossary for some of my persistent typos... I tend to write Cotober... and at that time of year it drives me mad! Many others are useful all year round.
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Overall, I do not think CATs save time. While they may enable you to go through a text and deliver the translation to the client quickly, you also have to spend time keeping your databases and glossaries up to date. Otherwise you will accumulate errors, and will not be able to rely on the suggestions in your CAT. With a good routine and a little discipline it can be done, but it is very important.

This is why people hate receivng ready-made TMs from agencies - they never know what is in them. But exchanging Translation Memories can be a great help when you can rely on the others who have contributed.
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You also have to keep glossaries and register terminology when you work without a CAT, as you will know. I recently translated a large document from a PDF with out a CAT, and although I missed the CAT features, I managed quite well with the functions in Word.
This was a purely text document with a lot of personal papers and medical records, and several sections that I could cut and paste, but also several large sections where I missed the 'fuzzy match' function...

At the end, I did add a little terminology to my CAT for future use, and even more of it was already there from previous occasions.
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When handling tables and other formatting, CATs can make life much easier. (They can also make it a nightmare - it is crucial to get them set up correctly. ALWAYS back up your original source file, so you can start again...)
Actually, Wordfast handles PowerPoint well in many cases, while the older versions of Trados could cause disaster!
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To sum up: get familiar with a CAT, so that you can use it when you want to, but there will be times when it is no advantage, and then you can work without it.

And be persistent. The routines can be terrifying when you have to look up every step in the manual, so get help if you need it, or watch webinars etc.

When you can set up a job/project/whatever and know which options to select and why, you will find the advantages.

Best of luck!
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Christina Fonthes (X)
Local time: 19:44
French to English
+ ...
THANK YOU Jul 19, 2011

Thank you Christine for your informative reply.
As a newbie to the industry the terminology, tools etc can be overwhelming. I have been struggling with this same question "should i use CAT tool" and this is the most helpful piece I’ve found so far. Thank you for taking the time to structure your answer.


 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:44
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Yes, you should Jul 20, 2011

If you decide to make a living from translation, you should definitely use a CAT.
I'd suggest using the free trials of Trados, WF, MemoQ and maybe DVX if they have one, and then picking and buying the one you like best.


 

José Luis de la Torre Nemenz  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 13:44
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
Which CAT tool? Jul 20, 2011

If I were to invest in a CAT tool (and for various reasons all seems to point to YES), which would be the most useful? SDL Trados seems to be the one most used and asked from by clients. Is that so? I think it would be an investment if it helps towards getting established and a more regular work flow. I´m not against getting a CAT tool, au contraire, but I´d love to know what more experienced translators consider the most useful all-around CAT (especially for someone who is starting out).

 

FarkasAndras  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:44
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Preferences Jul 20, 2011

Trados is the market leader, your hunch is correct.
Other than that, everyone has their own preference. On this forum, you'll find fans of Trados (Studio and Workbench), MemoQ, Wordfast (Pro and Classic), DVX, maybe even OmegaT and who knows what else... As I wrote above, get the trial version of each, try them and make up your mind. I prefer Trados, but that's just me.


 


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