CT: At this stage it is important to make a distinction between two terms that are closely related and that tend to confuse non-specialists: machine translation (MT) and computer-assisted translation (CAT). These two technologies are the consequence of different approaches. They do not produce the same results, and are used in distinct contexts. MT aims at assembling all the information necessary for translation in one program so that a text can be translated without human intervention. It exploits the computer’s capacity to calculate in order to analyze the structure of a statement or sentence in the source language, break it down into easily translatable elements and then create a statement with the same structure in the target language. It uses huge plurilingual dictionaries, as well as corpora of texts that have already been translated. As mentioned, in the 1980s MT held great promises, but it has been steadily losing ground to computer-assisted translation because the latter responds more realistically to actual needs.
CAT uses a number of tools to help the translator work accurately and quickly, the most important of which are terminology databases and translation memories. In effect, the computer offers a new way of approaching text processing of both the source and target text. Working with a digital document gives us non-sequential access to information so that we can use it according to our needs. It becomes easy to analyze the sentences of the source text, to verify the context in which a word or a text is used, or to create an inventory of terms, for example. Likewise, any part of the target text can be modified at any moment and parallel versions can be produced for comparison and evaluation. All these aspects have profound implications for translation, especially in terms of assessing the results, since the translator can work in a more relaxed way because of the greater freedom to make changes at any time while the work is in progress.
It is important to stress that automatic translation systems are not yet capable of producing an immediately useable text, as languages are highly dependant on context and on the different denotations and connotations of words and word combinations. It is not always possible to provide full context within the text itself, so that machine translation is limited to concrete situations and is considered to be primarily a means of saving time, rather than a replacement for human activity. It requires post-editing in order to yield a quality target text.
S: http://translationjournal.net/journal/29computers.htm (last access: 27 December 2014)
N: 1. An aid to translation.
2. Computer-assisted translation, computer-aided translation, or CAT is a form of translation wherein a human translator translates texts using computer software designed to support and facilitate the translation process.
Computer-assisted translation is sometimes called machine-assisted, or machine-aided translation.
A CAT tool breaks texts into segments (sentences or sentence fragments) and presents the segments in a convenient way, to make translating easier and faster. In some tools, for example MetaTexis, each segment is presented in a special box, and the translation can be entered in another box right below the source text.
The translation of each segment is saved together with the source text. Source text and translation will always be treated and presented as a translation units (TU). You can return to a segment at any time to check the translation. There are special functions which help to navigate through the text and to find segments which need to be translated or revised (quality control).
The main function of a CAT tool is to save the translation units in a database, called translation memory (TM), so that they can be re-used for any other text, or even in the same text. Through special “fuzzy search” features the search functions of CAT tools can also find segments which do not match 100%. This saves time and effort and helps the translator to use consistent terminology.
S: 1. TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 27 December 2014). 2. http://www.cattools.org/ (last access: 27 December 2014).
SYN: 1. machine-aided translation. 2. machine-assisted translation. 3. CAT.
S: 1. GDT (last access: 27 December 2014); TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 27 December 2014). 2. GDT (last access: 27 December 2014). 3. http://olst.ling.umontreal.ca/lhomme/download/traductique.pdf (last access: 19 December 2014); GDT (last access: 27 December 2014); TERMIUM PLUS (last access: 27 December 2014).