The evolution of translation

Many consider the first major work of translation in the Western World to be the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek in the 3rd century BC. During this time, translation was a practice reserved for the intellectual elite and considered a highly-coveted skill.

It was the theorisation of ancient philosophers such as Cicero that changed the way that the Western world thought about translation as a practice. Indeed, Cicero’s concept of sense-for-sense translation, that of translating meaning rather than translating word-for-word, was at the forefront of early translation studies.

It was not until the 15th century that translation underwent a great transformation. The development of the printing press put dictionaries into the hands of everyone and anyone who fancied themselves a translator, as well as allowing translated works mass distribution.

But the 20th century saw perhaps the most radical change of all for translation: the development of digital technologies, which included the multilingual internet, advanced machine translation and CAT tools.

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools

Translation and technology

It’s true – translation companies boasting about their use of CAT tools (that’s Computer-assisted translation to you and me) may seem a little incongruous. Aren’t we constantly told by everyone, from international marketing experts to our Year 9 French teacher, that the often-hilariously inaccurate Google Translate isn’t a valid substitute for a human translation?

But CAT tools are not to be confused with machine translation– they are a far cry from punching sentences into Google Translate and hoping for the best.

Whilst Google Translate is a type of machine translation (MT) service that cross-references numerous documents to attempt find a translation match, a CAT tool is an interactive translation process between human and computer– and the results speak for themselves.

What if we told you that there was a tool that could assist highly-qualified and experienced translators to save time, work more efficiently and make their output more consistent and accurate?

Wouldn’t you consider CAT tools to be the future of translation?

Time-saving and budget-saving

At the very heart of CAT tools is translation memory (TM). TM consists of a database of text segments in a source language and their corresponding translations in one or more target languages. This database is built from previous projects.

When a translator works on a new project using a CAT tool, the TM will be able to check if any text segments have been translated before. If that exact segment has been previously translated, the CAT tool will automatically provide that translation for re-use. Furthermore, a CAT tool can show translations of similar text segments (anything less than a 100% match is called a ‘fuzzy match’), which can then be reviewed and edited by the translator.

For a translator, this saves a huge amount of time and will allow them to increase their output and maximise their project turnaround time.

For those looking to invest in professional translation services, choosing a language service provider that embraces CAT tools can make your project significantly cheaper and your budget stretch further.

Accuracy, consistency and collaboration

CAT tools also allow for more consistency over a company’s many different projects – Translation Memory ensure your company’s voice remains consistent and on-brand, even when multiple translators are working on the same (or multiple) project(s).

Furthermore, CAT tools can employ customised user dictionaries consisting of specialised terminology, which can be expanded and developed in time. This ensures that the final product is as accurate as possible – an absolute must for technical documents in particular, such as legal, financial and scientific material.

These features, coupled with built-in advanced spelling and grammar check software, mean that CAT tools are the only solution you can trust for translating high-stakes documents.

How we can help

The best part about CAT tools is that they are constantly improving and developing. Here at Wolfestone, we are supported by the very best, state-of-the-art linguistic technology, Synergy X, to ensure that our customers receive a high-quality service at a price that suits their budget.

Our Synergy X CAT tools are web-based and accessible from any internet browser, anywhere in the world, enabling us to leverage the best linguistic talent from around the planet and to take advantage of global time-zones to decrease project turnaround times.

Want to know more about how we use CAT tools? Click here.