Three Reasons Why I Need CAT tools

When I first started translating, I didn’t realize that computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools were such a phenomenon in the translation community. I always thought that translations were done through word processors! I soon realized this wasn’t the case.

Here are three reasons why I need CAT tools:

CAT Tools Save Time

When I first started working on translation projects, I always assumed I’d be left to my own devices when it came to researching a translation. Oddly enough, my first few jobs were completed through word processors. I spent tedious amounts of time trying to find specific translations for words, mainly because it is often impossible to find a perfect translation from one language to another.

For example, in one of my projects I had to find the Dutch equivalent for English abbreviations, like ED and OR. While OR is a common abbreviation for ‘operating room,’ the correct translation for ED (emergency department), SHE (Spoed Eisende Hulp), was a complex process. Luckily, I was able to find the right translation through a lot of research, but if I had had the ability to use a CAT tool’s database, this process would have gone much faster.

Learning from Other Translators

The feature I enjoy most about CAT tools is that they allow you to see what other translators have done in a specific scenario, and what they chose as a translation. For specific words that really can’t be found otherwise, the information available on these CAT tools is invaluable. When I was working on medical translations, for example, I was given an excellent opportunity to make use of a CAT tool. I knew some of the medical terms in English, but not all of them. With CAT tools, I was able to find the translation easily.

Translating Large Files or Small Snippets

Another plus of using CAT tools is that they offer a better overview of the translation process. Everything is completed in snippets, whereas in Word or other document processors, there seems to be a lot of work that needs to be translated at once. However, the layout of CAT tools makes the translation process much easier, because there is a nice overview of what needs to be translated.

I have had nothing but positive experiences using CAT tools in my work, and I hope that they continue improving them and advancing the possibilities offered to translators. I am excited to see how they develop in the translator community, and I feel they will continue to make the process of translation clearer. A significant amount of progress has already been made, easing translation jobs for both the translator and the client. Technological advancements are refining the translation process daily, and it’s an exciting time as a translator to see what comes next.

About Tim Oldenhuis

I’m a native Dutch translator living in the Netherlands. I translate for Coursera to help make education accessible for everyone. My interests are SEO, Gamification and Marketing. I translate website content and blogs, primarily from English and German into Dutch.