Can someone please help me understand CAT?
Thread poster: Kelly Efird

Kelly Efird
Local time: 02:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 8, 2012

I get that CAT isn't the same as Machine Translation, but what does it do, exactly? When I translate articles and things from English to Spanish, I first past the text into Google Translate and then take that "translated" text and edit it myself so that it sounds more natural. Where would CAT play into that?

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Eddy Jul 8, 2012

3divina wrote:
When I translate articles and things from English to Spanish, I first past the text into Google Translate and then take that "translated" text and edit it myself so that it sounds more natural. Where would CAT play into that?


With CAT, you translate one sentence at a time. With CAT, if you want to use Google Translate, you'd have to pay Google for a Google Translate account, and use that with the CAT tool. Since you use Google Translate anyway, why not just use Google Translate Toolkit (GTT)? Upload your document, translate it in GTT, and download it in its translated form? GTT looks very similar to a CAT tool, so it'll give you an idea of how CAT tools work (except that GTT itself is very primitive).

translate.google.com/toolkit/


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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:15
Italian to English
Wikipedia Jul 8, 2012

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer-assisted_translation

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
A CAT tool helps you remember what you've already done Jul 8, 2012

3divina wrote:

I get that CAT isn't the same as Machine Translation, but what does it do, exactly? When I translate articles and things from English to Spanish, I first past the text into Google Translate and then take that "translated" text and edit it myself so that it sounds more natural. Where would CAT play into that?

Google Translate is a Machine Translation tool (MT) - it tries to do the job for you and normally makes a complete mess of it. Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools get you, the translator, to do the work and later remind you of what you've already done so well.

Imagine you translate your first text, using a CAT tool. It presents you with one segment (normally a sentence) at a time to translate. While doing the translation, you realise that you might need to use certain terminology again, so you tell the CAT tool that "x" in Spanish = "y" in English (in this context). But you actually do the entire translation yourself, after all that's what you do as a translator. At the end of the translation, you deliver the translation to the client. You also save all the segments to one .txt file, and the terminology to another .txt file.

Next job for the same client arrives. You tell the CAT tool that you want to make use of the terminology and memory files you created last time. You start translating. Note, it still isn't the CAT tool that translates, it's you, the translator. But when the CAT tool recognizes a word you saved, it suggests the terminology you used before (not that you are obliged to use it), and if you have an entire sentence which is identical or quite similar to the previous translation, it finds and suggests that as a translation.

Over time and particularly with fairly repetitive texts to translate, the CAT tool helps the skilled translator in two areas: consistency of terminology and speed of translating similar segments. If you're updating manuals, you can find that a high percentage is already in memory so it just needs tweaking.

Many translators, myself included, don't use MT at all. However, I did find that when I translated a contract it was a good idea to "pre-translate" using an MT, as well as the CAT tool. MT seemed to know quite well how to translate many of the standard clauses of a contract, so it saved me doing it from scratch. But I normally translate marketing material and MT is useless at that. Actually, CAT tools have their limitations, too. In a marketing text I often avoid repetition like the plague and I seldom find identical sentences other than "Contact Us", etc. But I still use one because I can search the memory for single words or groups of words. If nothing else, it ensures that I will never again omit to translate a sentence.

In short, if you create the memory yourself, they are worlds apart. You can have total confidence in your own remembered translations. If the client provides you with the memory and requires you to use it - and expects you to charge less than normal because of it - then it depends very much on the quality of the memory files received. I refuse to go there, personally. Some clients provide you with rubbish AND expect you to charge you less for re-translating it!

Sheila


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:15
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Jul 8, 2012



[Edited at 2012-07-08 22:08 GMT]


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 01:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
How a CAT tool works Jul 8, 2012

A CAT tool saves all your translations (provided you carry them out using the tool). As you translate using the CAT, you work through the text segment by segment. A segment generally corresponds to a sentence. Whenever you have to translate a sentence or phrase similar or identical to one you translated in the past, it will pull it out of its memory and present it to you.

The CAT tool can also be used to store glossaries. The CAT can also help you by displaying matching glossary items. As you load a sentence, if any words in the sentence have a corresponding glossary entry, the tool will display them for you. The better tools will even insert the terms for you or allow you to insert them where you want in the sentence with a quick click or keystroke.

The help you receive from your CAT tool will increase over time as you store more and more completed translations in its memories, and as your glossaries expand.

You asked how the CAT plays into the machine translation process. There are two possible answers:
(1)The CAT tool process can be used independently of (or without) machine translation. CAT tools have been helping translators for well over a decade, and were in use before machine translation was as “good” as it is today.
(2)Some CAT tools offer you the option of integrating machine translation into the tool to produce a first draft within the CAT tool. When the machine translation presents you with its version of a sentence, you can evaluate and correct it, or even reject it altogether and translate the sentence without using the machine translation version, and the CAT tool will store your finished human translation for the sentence.


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Kelly Efird
Local time: 02:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks, but... Jul 9, 2012



I'd already read through that as well as the Machine Translation article.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:15
Career translator - or just a text now and then? Jul 9, 2012

Hi 3divina,

Your profile says nothing about you - it does not show whether you are a career translator, and it doesn't even give your name. And your first posting in this thread only gives a very small clue: "When I translate articles and things from English to Spanish ......"
The key word here is "when" - is it an occasional hobby or pleasure, or is it a career? If it is a career, you could probably be more specific about the text types than just saying "articles and things".
A CAT tool is a career building tool, a long-term investment. The databases in my CAT tool (Déjà Vu X2) contain almost all of the work I have done over the last 13 years - including whole sentences, terminology and common phrases. When I translate a new text, I have all of that material at my fingertips.
This is only worthwhile if you can build up your resources in the CAT tool over several years. In your most common text types you will notice the benefit in months or even weeks (in some types of job perhaps even within hours).
If you only occasionally translate "articles and things", you will get more benefit from your own language skills, plus dictionaries and perhaps machine translation.
I hope this will help you to decide whether CAT tools are a reasonable investment of money and time for your purposes.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What else do you need to know? Jul 9, 2012

3divina wrote:



I'd already read through that as well as the Machine Translation article.


If you have read about it, what exactly do you want to know? Several of us have given an outline of a CAT tool's capabilities. Haven't they answered the question "Can someone please help me understand CAT?"?

Sheila


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Kelly Efird
Local time: 02:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Well... Jul 9, 2012

Victor Dewsbery wrote:

Hi 3divina,

Your profile says nothing about you - it does not show whether you are a career translator, and it doesn't even give your name. And your first posting in this thread only gives a very small clue: "When I translate articles and things from English to Spanish ......"
The key word here is "when" - is it an occasional hobby or pleasure, or is it a career? If it is a career, you could probably be more specific about the text types than just saying "articles and things".
A CAT tool is a career building tool, a long-term investment. The databases in my CAT tool (Déjà Vu X2) contain almost all of the work I have done over the last 13 years - including whole sentences, terminology and common phrases. When I translate a new text, I have all of that material at my fingertips.
This is only worthwhile if you can build up your resources in the CAT tool over several years. In your most common text types you will notice the benefit in months or even weeks (in some types of job perhaps even within hours).
If you only occasionally translate "articles and things", you will get more benefit from your own language skills, plus dictionaries and perhaps machine translation.
I hope this will help you to decide whether CAT tools are a reasonable investment of money and time for your purposes.


I want to make it into a career. I have several newspaper articles from over the past year that I've translated on my own. I don't know if that counts as "reproducing" an article without an author's permission, but that's another topic. I also don't feel comfortable using my real name because I don't want to be stalked, but that's also another topic.


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Simon Mac
Local time: 07:15
French to English
+ ...
Very good answers Jul 10, 2012

Several people spent a long time answering this question! You made something I too had been wondering about very clear. Thank you!

[Edited at 2012-07-10 20:25 GMT]


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chinahhf
Local time: 14:15
German to Chinese
Good question and good answers Jul 11, 2012

You have made a good quetion and also many people have given good answers which also helped me a lot. By the way , I am a Chinese learnt Germany and English.

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:15
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
CAT is not only TM Jul 14, 2012

Everything that has been written in this topic about CAT is in fact about TM.
(What I've written here is covered by the Wikipedia article, but it's perhaps worth putting my concise version here directly in the Proz forum.)

CAT = Computer-Assisted Translation = includes all means of using a computer to help in the job of translation

TM = Translation Memory = a specific type of CAT tool that guides you through the process of translating a source text (in electronic form, not on paper) into target text and, while doing this, remembers the resulting source-target segment pairs; when you start to translate a new source segment, the TM program will offer you an existing translation found in the translation memory, if it finds one that it considers sufficiently similar to the new one, as a starting point for the translation. The meaning of sufficiently similar is defined by the programming of the TM program and a degree of similarity that the user can choose.

MT = Machine Translation = using the computer to attempt to do the whole job of producing a target-language text that is equivalent to the source text. As has been discussed many times in Proz forums, MT in general is not very good, but can be fast and good in special situations such as where the source text is written in a "controlled language" for which the MT program is ready.

CAT tools include TM programs, MT programs (including Google Translate), glossary managers, electronic dictionaries and some others that I'm not familiar with.

Oliver

[Edited at 2012-07-14 10:36 GMT]


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See them in action in YouTube! Jul 14, 2012

Here is SDL Trados, for example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0rAA8baU_Y&feature=related

I'm not a translator but I have worked on CAT software development.


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