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CATs talk

CAT stands for Computer Aided Translations. Following is a series of articles devoted to CATs in general and to my personal favorite, Wordfast.

Wordfast is probably one of the best translation tools on the market. Having used Wordfast for a while, I thought it was time I pay a tribute to that amazing piece of software, and decided to put together a few help pages with screen shots to help people getting started with it.

This is meant to be a real bona fide beginner manual and I apologize in advance to learned users if I tend to over simplify. Some pages may take a bit of time to load, since I used numbers of screenshots. I kept each screenshot to the minimum size, but if you are using a slow connection, you may want to temporarily disable pictures and show only the pictures you want to see.

CATs possess many functions and can handle a rather large amount of operations. You could easily get confused if you did not isolate the fundamental parts. Typically, CATs offer the following features:


CATs consider a document to be a succession of meaningful units called segments. Typically a segment is a sentence, but in some cases, it could be a phrase or even a single word. When translating a document, the CAT will isolate segments in your document.This process is called segmentation. It is by itself very useful to the translator as he no longer has to look for the next sentence to translate. It's right in front of his eyes. The segment containing the sentence of the original document is called source segment. The segment containing your translation is called target segment.

Translation Memory:

Following the segmentation, CATs will store together the source segment and the target segment in a file which we call translation memory (TM). When you later come across the same sentence, or a similar one, the CAT will propose your earlier translation, which is a tremendous help in keeping consistency on a repetitive document. If the sentence is identical, most CATs will insert your past translation directly into the target segment and wait for you to validate the segment. This is called 100% match. If the segment is only similar, it will be proposed, often with a mention of the percentage of similarity between the current segment and the one in your TM. This we call a fuzzy match. Translation memory is also used by diverse terminology functions, which we will cover at a later time.

Terminology Handling:

CATs usually offer different tools helping the translator to remain consistent in his translations and to use appropriate terminology throughout his documents. This can be done by integrating glossaries, dictionaries, and allowing you to develop your own terminology.

Quality check:

Good CATs will allow you to check your translations using different parameters. This includes, of course, spell checking, but also checking if you respected the terminology in your glossary - often a client will want you to use terms of their own glossary.

File handling:

There is a host of documents in different formats involved in translations. HTML files, DOC files, RTF, PowerPoint documents, Excel Sheets, Translation memories, Glossary files, ... CATs will provide different ways of handling different types of documents.

All right. These are functions most CATs hold in common. As you probably understand by now, CATs can boost productivity of translators while helping them to attain better quality standards.

If all the above is clear, it is time to move on and get started with one of the best tools on the industry, WORDFAST. Ready? Click HERE !