Friday, January 13, 2012

Are CAT tools really necessary?

Lately, we’ve seen a significant number of translators asking us at Active Gaming Media the above question. Are the various types of translation software available REALLY necessary in order to do a good, proper translation?

My answer is a resounding NO. Although I feel I must explain my answer.

Basically, a translation tool only allows you to separate a piece of text into segments which are recognized once they have been translated. From that point, the software offers you several possibilities for translation, given that you have translated a similar segment before - which happens frequently if the text is long. But it is important to clarify the fact that the software does not actually translate for the translator as many people seem to believe.
A piece of software does not turn a donkey into a racehorse. First, you need to have very competent skills in both the source and target languages. After that, you can start by translating brief texts, creating your own glossaries and understanding the respective natures and correlations of your only working languages. The step of purchasing a CAT tool should only be made when you want to establish yourself as a professional freelance translator. This leads to a new question:

I want to work as a translator, do I need to buy a $1,000 piece of software for that?”
YES. The software will not do your work for you, but it is important for you buy one for several reasons:

1. It will help you to obtain more work. Most clients believe it is compulsory to have these tools.
2. It will give consistency to your translations, especially when the text is long.
3. It will allow you to work in a more organized way.

I understand that this type of software is still far too expensive, though. I suggest that all novice translators ask their friends and gather information before choosing a brand.
 Once you’ve gotten used to the software, the $1,000 investment can be recovered in a month.