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Is it worth buying a CAT Program
Thread poster: Mike Davison
Mike Davison  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:39
Portuguese to English
May 19, 2008

Hello Everyone,
I have been translating, Portuguese to English, in an ad-hoc way for about 14 years (Short texts, pages for web site, labels etc) and full time for 18 months now. I am a native English speaker.
I translate from Portuguese into English using a pre-translation program, then I manually revise and correct this text, then run the result, as a Word file, through a text to speech program so I can ‘hear’ any mistakes.
I am now considering investing in Trados 2007, or Wordfast, mainly to speed up the output, correct errors and generally improve the quality of my translations.
Am I doing the right thing, is the investment worth it? Will the improvement, if any be worth the investment? Which is the best of the two?
Thanks
Mike


[Edited at 2008-05-19 12:05]


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Maria Karra  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:39
Member (2000)
Greek to English
+ ...
some info in this forum May 19, 2008

Hi Mike,
To get started, here are some threads posted in this forum with information on CAT tools:

What CAT tools are available? http://www.proz.com/topic/104194

Should I buy a tool like Trados? http://www.proz.com/topic/93005

What is the point of Trados? http://www.proz.com/topic/103196

Trados, Wordfast...I can't understand them!!! http://www.proz.com/topic/63202

What do Trados/WordFast actually do? http://www.proz.com/topic/62788

CAT tools http://www.proz.com/topic/36735

Any opinions about Trados? http://www.proz.com/topic/812

TRADOS - what is it and how does it help a translator? http://www.proz.com/topic/1051

Maria


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:39
Member
French to English
+ ...
Not for me! May 19, 2008

Mike, there's been a lot of discussion about this before, and I've plugged my view ad nauseam; but just to recap as succinctly as possible here, if it's any help to you.

I have tried using Wordfast on and off over the last few years, and eventually succumbed and bought it properly late last year, because I had one specific large project that justified it.

For that particular project, it was worthwhile, though I found the learning curve (admittedly much less steep than with certain other CAT tools) slowed me up a great deal, and I didn't find that I got that much faster, even after working with it for quite some time.

Personally, for the kind of work I mainly do, I don't find it worthwhile; there is little repetition, except perhaps at the terminology level, where WF is not particularly fast; generally, I find it slows me up ENORMOUSLY, particularly when you have to work round all the little quirky things, or it won't let you segment the way you want to, etc. I don't think these sorts of problems are by any means confined to W/f.

Another problem I find is that even theoretical repeats turn out not to be, due to the poor quality of most originals; a mis-placed comma or space here or there, and your '100% match' goes out the window, sometimes with some highly illogical results.

Basically, I found myself spending more time ironing out the wrinkles than I would have done translating purely manually.

The only real advantage I see would be if the glossary feature were easier to use — that would be really helpful to me! But in fact, it generally takes me longer to enter terms in the glossary, or select from the terms proposed, than it does to do what I've always done: as soon as I come across terminology in a document that is likely to recur, I do a search-&-replace-all for that term, and gradually, as I go through the document, more and more of it is already translated as I get to it.

I also find that CAT tools interfere with my way of working; I usually do a first rough pass translation, and then I go back and polish off; if you try and do this with a CAT tool, it's a real time-waster. Plus, in the kind of work I do, I very often re-arrange sentences, splitting them differently, re-ordering them, etc. This is the sort of thing that the rigidity of a segmentation system really screws up, and I for one find it very frustrating; it means I have to do the CAT translation first, and then go back over it and re-work it afterwards in a way that normally I would have done up-front.

I think if you do the kind of work where the language is simple and lends itself to segmentation, and where the volume and degree of repetitions justifies it, then they are possibly useful; personally, I just tend to steer clear of those kinds of jobs, and look for more interesting and fruitful work.

[Edited at 2008-05-19 16:04]


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:39
German to English
+ ...
"Is it worth buying a CAT Program" May 19, 2008

Tony M wrote:

I also find that CAT tools interfere with my way of working; I usually do a first rough pass translation, and then I go back and polish off; if you try and do this with a CAT tool, it's a real time-waster.


I find exacty the reverse, Tony: like you, I produce several drafts, and I find having source and target next to each other on the screen, segment-by-segment, a real boon at the checking stage.

But do whatever works for you, there I agree with you.

Marc


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:39
Member
French to English
+ ...
Very interesting... May 19, 2008

Marc P wrote:

I find exacty the reverse, Tony


Most interested to hear of your opposite experience, Marc! Perhaps you have found a way of working that would help me?

I just find that it is time-wasting to go through all the segmentation/validation process a second or third time, so at best, I do my rough pass in W/f, then clean the doc and work manually from then on; but of course that screws up the TM no end!

But I think my biggest beef is with the segmentation; I hate being presented with little pre-digested chunks of text (especially as my usual source language is FR, with all the word-order issues that raises...), and having to expand or shrink segments to suit the text — particularly when so often something like a line break comes along to prevent my segmenting as I wish! Having to manually force segments (even supposing the system will let you!) wastes a lot of time, I find, and trying to work round those cases where the system won't even let me is worse still.

I guess I'm just a Luddite, or at least, it's the artist in me taking over!

[Edited at 2008-05-19 16:20]


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Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:39
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
More from the archives May 19, 2008

Dear Mike,

I also asked this question a few months back, and got a lot of interesting answers, pro and con. See:

http://www.proz.com/forum/814270

I am learning how to use OmegaT, which is the free CAT tool. It was hard going at first, but I'm starting to get the hang of it. Not enough experience to say whether it's worth it or not for me, at this point.

(By the way, I have learned from a few months on the site, that there's loads of stuff in the archives, which is good to look at before posting a question. See forums and articles on translation issues.)

Susan


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:39
English to Russian
+ ...
why don't you May 19, 2008

reswitch segmentation to show full paragraphs?

It's a screenshot for Trados, but the same thing exists in WF too.
Just delete as appropriate.

Photobucket

[Edited at 2008-05-19 16:46]


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FarkasAndras
Local time: 01:39
English to Hungarian
+ ...
need more details May 19, 2008

It depends on how repetitive your work is and what areas you work in. (Not talking about recurring sentences here, just terminology, topics. If you have lots of sentences repeated then it's a no-brainer.)
If you do any significant quantities of legal work, go for it. The EU acquis memory and the europarl corpus (google them) are both available in your languages, about 1 million sentences each. That's one hell of a resource if you work in the fields they cover. CAT tools also help a lot with terminology.

It also depends on how handy you are with computer software, but from your workflow description it seems you have no problems with that...

BTW what software do you use? A free online MT tool? Or did you buy something?


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Mike Davison  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:39
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Farkas May 19, 2008

Thanks Farkas,
I do my pre-translations with a program I bought years ago called - L&H Power Translator Pro Version 7.0 ( Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products, NV.) Do you know of something better?


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 01:39
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
One additional, actually prevalent, reason May 20, 2008

I am now considering investing ... mainly to speed up the output, correct errors and generally improve the quality of my translations.

Your 18 months of past work could be sitting in your computer in a form of a Translation memory and speed up you current work.

If Microsoft customers have been using IntelliSense and AutoCorrect wherever possible, I don`t see any reason, why my computer could not follow my thoughts and finish (or fish out;) the sentence I am working on. Assuming it knows about my past translations.

Regards

Vito



[Edited at 2008-05-20 08:43]


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mystymy
Local time: 19:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on your work demands May 20, 2008

CAT tools can be extremely useful but it depends on your work. They also take time to learn to use, I find it best to use a slow period to train-up my knowledge or learn a new tool from the demos. So it depends on what you work on and who you work with (agencies have specific tool requirements sometimes).

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:39
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Not for you, no May 21, 2008

Mike Davison wrote:
I translate from Portuguese into English using a pre-translation program, then I manually revise and correct this text, then run the result, as a Word file, through a text to speech program so I can ‘hear’ any mistakes.


So, you are a machine translation output reviser, right? If so, then a CAT tool will only slow you down, because you'll be mixing two different types of processes. CAT tools rely solely on human translation (although it can be combined with machine translation in a primitive, one-by-one sentence review kind of way).

The cheapest tool I know of that can be combined with MT, is Wordfast (and it is free up to 500 segments per translation memory). So if you're really keen on introducing a CAT tool into your current process, I suggest you try Wordfast, although nothing stops you from buying Trados once you discover that this new combination actually works for you.


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ardrapier  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:39
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Same doubts but related to ttx files May 22, 2008

Hello folks
I have a job which involves translating powerpoint presentations (looks quite simple). Problem is it requires using tag editor. Can anyone give me a hint of how to do this without having to buy an expensive CAT tool?

Thanks
Andrea


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:39
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not for you if you use machine translation May 22, 2008

Samuel Murray wrote:
So, you are a machine translation output reviser, right? If so, then a CAT tool will only slow you down, because you'll be mixing two different types of processes. CAT tools rely solely on human translation (although it can be combined with machine translation in a primitive, one-by-one sentence review kind of way).

The cheapest tool I know of that can be combined with MT, is Wordfast (and it is free up to 500 segments per translation memory). So if you're really keen on introducing a CAT tool into your current process, I suggest you try Wordfast, although nothing stops you from buying Trados once you discover that this new combination actually works for you.


I entirely agree with both things: 1) it is not for people who rely on machine translation; 2) I would buy Wordfast first and if business picks up and means a full-time job, would then move to Trados, which is an easy transition to do if you are used to Wordfast.

I have a neighbour who opened a shop and purchased a huge van to transport the goods himself, assuming he would sell a lot. He's not selling that much, and the van was sort of useless. Don't buy the van before you know how much you're going to sell!!


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:39
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Metatexis May 23, 2008

I have tried Wordfast, OmegaT and Metetexis. I refuse to buy Trados, partly because of the price but also because I refuse to work with agencies who require that their freelancers use Trados so they can give you a TM for your work and make you give them a far too high fuzzy match discount - I just don't want to work that way.

Metatexis is my favourite. It is very simple, you don't really have to learn it, just go ahead! And if you need support, it is provided by the guy who made it and he is very friendly and helpful. Metatexis is also quite cheap.

I originally started using Metatexis because there is a function where you can import an Excel-file into a Word document and back when you have done the translation - very handy as I get a lot of Excel files.


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