Translation Aid Software

Can Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Software and other tools replace the human translator? 

translation aid software

translation aid software

The development within the translation industry of computer aided translation (CAT) software tools, is claimed by some as wonderful, while others with experience of it think otherwise. I belong to the latter group, those who see the limitations which should be of concern to the final user or customer!

Translation aid software and CAT tools need a human to operate them. These products are database dependant whilst language is a living thing and is evolving all the time. A document translated today may be different from a similar document translated the previous year due to language changes and other relevant factors.

For the translator these tools, therefore, present a number of challenges that can seriously affect the quality of the final translation, one of them is the fact that any mistakes introduced will be replicated by the database because machines do not  recognize mistakes and will keep on repeating the error or errors. This is a potentially serious problem, if it is not seen and corrected promptly, the resultant document could end up full of errors. Correcting a database can cause problems and errors can be introduced, if not done properly, which will affect the quality of the final translation.

A further problem faced by the translator is that generally these software programs present material for translation in segments, a segment can be from one full stop to another, these segments vary in size and present a before and after context problem, this is serious and will probably affect the quality of the final translation and usually does with negative results. It is difficult, I would say impossible, to translate with accuracy without considering before and after context.

Computer aided translation

Computer aided translation

Another factor to consider is; the software and computer do not recognize and are not able to deal with nuances and subtle changes that will affect the accuracy of the translation itself (please see the posting Translations have consequences). The final translation itself will resemble a series of statements without correlation to each other. The machine is no match for the human brain!!! 

I have tried translation aid software myself, just in case, and found it defective in many areas, including the conversion back to the original format, when some unusual changes are introduced by the software.

A major problem for the professional translator is that agencies and companies who use these software programs will try to match text and pay only for the words that in their assessment need translating, for example, if a translation is an 80% match, the translator will only be paid for 20%, but the translation process will take longer and the translator does not get paid for this extra time incurred. These programs are expensive to buy and do not improve quality.

There are many other issues, not covered here, but based on the preceding I return to the question “Will Translation Aid Software and other CAT tools replace the human translator? The evidence shows how important it is to choose an experienced professional translator to translate your documents.

Comments are closed.