Translation memory (TM) systems, the most widely used toolkits in the localization of digital information at HQ-translate agency, enable the translation and cultural adaptation of electronic content (e-content) for local markets. The idea behind TM systems is to store in a computer system the original e-content and the translation that has been produced by human translators; the stored translated version of the source document has been broken down into manageable units, generally one sentence long.
For people like me, who started out in the translation profession in the pre-CAT-tool era and now are regular CAT-tool users, it is obvious that to some extent the main argument of CAT tools developers is true: these devices improve productivity. Yet I always had the curiosity to measure this improvement in terms of time and profit. Especially during the last few years that translation agencies tend to demand considerable price reductions when a translation is processed using a CAT tool, it becomes more and more difficult to understand whether or not the improvement in productivity is canceled by price reductions.
Today the most popular CAT tools: TRADOS, Deja vu, Wordfast. The advantages of using translation memory systems are fairly obvious: they increase the translator??s productivity and enhance translation quality by ensuring that terminology and expressions are used consistently within and across translations. Users in industry and international organizations report a 25??60% rise in productivity.
Some main features of CATs:
1.Text search tools
3.Quality checking through automatic watch list checking, or through applying formal rules
4.Statistical tools providing information about the translation process
6.Tools for post-production (e.g. correct formatting)
7.Alignment Tool. Many translations have not been translated with the help of a CAT tool, so that they are not available in TMs for further usage. To enable the translator to save these texts in a TM many CAT tools offer a special tool to produce TMs. This is usually called an “alignment tool”.
Yet, it must be stated that the use of TM systems may also have negative effects on translation quality. One of the major disadvantages of TM systems is that they usually operate at sentence level. Thus, there is a serious danger that the translator will focus too much on isolated sentences, possibly disregarding the contexts in which the sentences are embedded. Moreover, the matching algorithms of TM systems are based on very simple formal criteria, such as the similarity of character strings. Therefore, the human translator??s notion of the degree of similarity between a segment to be translated and a segment retrieved from the database may differ considerably from the degree of similarity calculated by the TM system. This may lead to situations wherein exact matches yield wrong translations, or one translation of a fuzzy match requires little or no adjustment but another fuzzy match with the same similarity value is not useful at all (for a discussion on the aspects of evaluating the retrieval mechanisms of TM systems, see Expert Advisory Group on Language Engineering Standards (1996), Whyman and Somers (1999), and Reinke (2000a, 2004).
Despite the drawbacks, it should be noted that TM systems generally integrate into the translation workflow comparatively smoothly. These CATs leave human translators in control of the actual translation process, while relieving them from routine work and maintaining translation as a creative act whenever the linguistic resourcefulness of a human being is required.