Working with CAT Tools – Advantages and Disadvantages


A CAT tool (computer-assisted translation) is a software that is designed to help with the translation of a text. The text is fragmented into segments and this fact is supposed to help with the translation process, which would be carried out faster. It should not be confused with machine translations. The CAT tools are used by human translators in order to provide consistency.

The CAT tools include the “terminology” (TM) option that helps the translator find easier the term that is required to be used and that was already used when translating certain content. The TM can be updated at any moment and be used by any other linguist working on that content, and saved for further translation requirements for that customer or within the same domain.

The most used CAT tools are Trados, MemoQ, WordFast, DejaVu, MateCat, MetaTexis, Transit, Across, Catalyst, or Idiom. They may be used by purchasing a license, or by working online – however, with limited options.
The main advantage of the CAT tools is the TM option that can be created, saved and used later by any linguist on any text, by providing consistency to that text.

Yet, there are many linguists who find the interface of these computer-assisted translation tools to be not very friendly, but tiring and confusing. These linguists feel like the CAT tools transforms their work into a robotic one, and therefore the results are not the best. An experienced linguist does not need the memory that is found in the software but the language they have already been using for years when translating texts. An experienced translator can work much faster without the help of the CAT tools. Ironically, the segmentation may lead to loss of consistency – ironically because the CAT tools were especially created to maintain consistency. But there are translators who believe that the computer-assisted translation tools are really helpful and are happy to use them at any moment.

In conclusion, the CAT tools are designed to help with the consistency of a translation in a faster manner. But the linguists should not be forced to use them, as they know better their job and the method they want to use for the best results, without losing the essence of the content. The computer-assisted translation tools are an option.