Interoperability & CAT Tools

By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations

InteroperabilityComputer assisted translation (CAT) tools have been helping translation agencies like Adarve Translations provide high quality, efficient work for years.

Computer-Assisted Translation has nothing to do with automated translation, nor is it machine translation either.  Computer-Assisted Translation—CAT—is translation written by human translators with the help of specialized software (CAT tool) presenting features and functions that allow to increase workflow, efficiency and accuracy, as well as quality assurance, term bases or glossaries and other assistive features.

Some of the translation tools used by professional translators are:

  • Spell checkers
  • Grammar checkers
  • Terminology managers
  • Dictionaries (paper copy or electronic)
  • Terminology databases
  • Full-text search tools
  • Concordancers
  • Bitexts
  • Project management software
  • Translation Memory

Translation Memory tools consist of a database of text segments in the language pair the translator is working on, known as the source language and the target language.

Basically, a translation memory stores translated text, including the source text, in a database to be retrieved later during the translation of any new text a client might send down the road. When the translation of a new document is requested by a previous or new client, the software continuously scans the database being created, or that was created previously during the translation of a different but similar document, looking for identical or similar segments to the ones already translated and ‘brings back’ the match closest to the specific sentence the translator is working on at a given moment.

The translator has the choice to use this match as is, if it is identical to the present segment—known as 100% match—or to make the necessary changes to match it—known as a ‘fuzzy match’.

Both 100% matches and fuzzy matches are suggestions from the database created directly by the translator, NOT by any automated system, though they are not automatic choices that must be followed. The translator can edit all matches presented by the translation memory, depending on context for the 100% matches, and according to the needs of the new segment, since the fuzzy match is not actually a full translation of the source segment, but the translation of a very similar segment, which may prove useful, or be a basis, to translate the new one.

Nowadays, there is a plethora of CAT tools available to translators all over the world. A lot of translators use just one tool, the one that best fits their needs and the demands of their specific line of specialization, yet other translators often use more than one tool, according to the end-client or translation agency they are working for.

Using one or several tools is, of course, a matter of choice, but it can also become expensive in the long run, time-consuming—especially at the stage of learning to use each new tool—and impractical in many occasions.

CAT ToolsOne of the questions we asked ourselves at Adarve Translations a couple of years ago was, “Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to use one tool that could help us do everything we need and more?” In order to achieve this, the ideal CAT tool would have to be interoperable with most, if not all of the other CAT tools available in our industry.

In an ideal world, human beings would learn to work as a whole and not divided as we usually do. This fact makes for many translation memory software packages being available on the market, but most of them not being interoperable.

What does this mean? “Language service providers, translators and their end clients pay a high price for relatively low interoperability in the supply chain – loss of time or jobs, or lack of access to qualified translators.” (TAUS – Enabling Better Translation).

At Adarve Translations, we believe that the first step towards solving these issues of loss of time or jobs and the lack of access to qualified translators is through the use of an interoperable translation tool.

On the Web we find many definitions of interoperability (SE News – Johns Hopkins University Engineering for Professionals):

“Interoperability is a property referring to the ability of diverse systems and organizations to work together (inter-operate).”

“Interoperability is a property of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, without any restricted access or implementation.”

“Interoperability is the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to interpret and use the information that has been exchanged.”

“Interoperability is the ability of different systems and applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged.”

“Interoperability means the ability of systems to work together within and across boundaries.”

Since not all translation tools are interoperable, the translation of a document using a given Translation Memory tool cannot always be edited or updated using a different Translation Memory tool. Being a translation agency that widely works with freelance translators all over the world, Adarve Translations recognizes that not all translators use the exact same tools we use. How do we do then to compensate for the lack of interoperability among the different translation tools?

Adarve Translations has found the solution in MemoQ, a user-friendly, intuitive and very thorough translation tool that can handle all the tasks that would previously need multiple CAT tools to be performed. MemoQ is interoperable with the major CAT tools available today, such as SDL Trados 2007 or earlier, Trados Studio (2009, 2011, 2014), SDLX, Wordfast PRO, STAR Transit, etc.

Our translations are thus highly consistent on each subject matter, and, with one simple program, you can make sure that tone, inflection, dialect and more are all translated correctly. The result is a better project for the customer and fewer man-hours needed to get the job done. Plus, we don’t have to stress our collaborators by “forcing” them to acquire additional software!

Interoperability in a platter

Interoperability in a platter

And… what were we looking for? High quality, faster delivery (speed) and the lowest price possible, right?

Adarve Translations is proud to say that, since the emergence of MemoQ, we are right on the goal of interoperability, while always keeping abreast with the latest technological developments to make sure our clients are always satisfied with us and our work.

“Our main goal is to provide the most accurate scientific, medical, technical or dental translations to our clients, and this software allows us to do exactly that. The end result is that we are better able to meet deadlines and provide a higher level of technical translations to our customers.”

—Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC

Adriana Adarve


About the Author:
 Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as multi-cultural.

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