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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How many computer aided translation tools do we really need?

How many Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools do we really need?
In the last year, we have seem the strange phenomena of most large language service providers investing in newly developed tools. This is not really new. There has long been a desire throughout the industry from freelancers up to large companies to find effective, but low priced, alternatives to Trados.

This is totally understandable when taking the viewpoint of the translation professionals who not only see up front investments in tools, but the continuous requirement to upgrade. We in the language supply business are forced into paying for training schemes to teach us how to do what we already know how to do.
Apart from Trados version 2007 required by some clients and different versions of Trados Studio from others, we have very recently seen all of the following being requested:
Transifex, Izumi, SDLPassolo, MemoQ, AgitoTranslate, XTMTranslate, Wordfast, dejavu, and Wordbee.
Not to mention: Fluency Translation Suite, GeoWorkZ, TransitNXT, MadCap Lingo, Smartling, MetaTexis, CafeTran, LogiTerm Pro, Sordfish, OmegaT, MemSource Cloud, Heartsome Translation Studio, Across, MultiTrans Prism, Text United, etc. The list seems endless and every year there are new players joining the field.
Given that we know that the translation industry, when it is all reduced down to its most basic components, is that it is little more than a cottage industry and it looks like it is staying that way for the foreseeable future.
So, the question is, how do the freelancers cope when every new client asks for a different tool to be used? Short answer is, they don't! This then causes a greatly reduced number of linguists available for translating certain projects. Those that do know the tool may not have the required know how for the subject matter, but these days, it is often the knowledge of a particular tool that determines which linguist is assigned to the given project.

Too many CATs in the house is not making for better quality translations. Translation buyers are ultimately paying for all this “innovation.” Calls to continuously upgrade existing tools is clearly designed to fuel the profits of the software development companies who are hanging on the fringe of the industry.
Surely all these groups that keep telling us that there is a need for standards control for quality can help out a little here. If translation industry tools could be standardized or streamlined it would be a huge leap forward in both productivity and competitiveness for everyone at the coal face of translation work.

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