Being a translator requires extensive knowledge and skills in many areas. Translation is not as nearly as straightforward as it may sound. That’s why translators need all the help they can get. Today, thanks to the breakthroughs in technology, those who are at least a little bit tech-savvy can enjoy the benefits of Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) software packages.
If you’re overwhelmed with work, CAT tool may be just the thing you need to take your translation to the next level. Cat tools can help you increase your workload while increasing your productivity at the same time; they can also help you be effortlessly consistent with terminology, and much more.
We now know CAT tools are great. There are, however, many CAT tools out there. So which one is the right one for you? Let’s weigh in on pros and cons of the 4 most popular CAT tools used by translators:
Trados is by far the most commonly used CAT tool today precisely because it allows translators to do so much with it. It has its pros and cons, but if you know how to use this tool can take the workload off your back.
There are so many things you could say about Trados, but let’s stick to the most important ones. While Trados can work with any text, it is certainly more useful when it is used with similar texts. Why? Simply because when both texts are similar Trados will be able to suggest options for you. (Although this also applies to pretty much every CAT tool.)
To illustrate this point: if you’re translating the text from English to Italian, and you have a sentence: ‘The girl is sad’ and you have already at some point translated the similar sentence: ‘The boy is sad’ Trados will already know that ‘is sad’ translates as ‘è triste’. You only need to translate the rest of the sentence. This is especially useful when you’re translating different user manuals and texts where there are a lot of repetitive words and terminology you would otherwise need to remember.
There are several disadvantages though. Firstly, Trados doesn’t work great on new word processors, and it is also a bit expensive. But if you’re dealing with these kinds of texts it definitely pays off in the long run.
Secondly, Trados can only be used on Windows. More specifically, SDL Trados Studio 2015 supports only Microsoft Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. So if you have a Mac, you’ll most likely have to create a virtual machine or simply buy a Windows computer.
There are many editions of Wordfast, including Wordfast Classic, Wordfast Anywhere, Wordfast Pro 3, Wordfast Server and Wordfast Pro 4 is coming soon.
Wordfast Classic is used by thousands of freelance translators worldwide.
The first great thing about Wordfast is that most versions allow for a demo version so you can decide whether this software is for you or not.
Wordfast Classic operates within MS Word but it can also run on Mac and Linux with MS Word running. There are very few keystrokes to remember and it’s quite user-friendly. It’s also very easy to create glossaries (up to three) but it has only one translation memory.
Wordfast Pro 3, on the other hand, is a platform-independent translation memory tool, meaning that it can stand alone. It is designed for both individual translators as well as LSPs and corporations.
Compared to Trados, Wordfast can be used on multiple platforms including Windows, Mac and Linux. Its intuitive design and navigation system make it perfect for translators who are not particularly tech-savvy.
The cons of Wordfast Classic is that it doesn’t always work flawlessly, especially not with PowerPoint and Excel files. The latest version doesn’t even allow Wordfast to process Excel and PP files. But some other versions of Wordfast like Anywhere or Pro are able to do this.
MemoQ is a translation tool which operates only on Microsoft Windows operating systems. MemoQ has a translation memory engine. Just like with Trados, it looks for already translated similar or identical sentences and suggests the translation or another option. MemoQ has customizable filters that can deal with complex files like XML-embedded Excel documents. It can basically work with all file formats.
It’s not really affordable, so if you’re not sure whether this is the right tool for you can always download the 30-day trial version and see before you actually buy.
Déjà vu X3 is relatively new on the market and it’s been gaining more and more momentum.
What used to be Trados’ unique feature is now available on Déjà vu X3 as well – marked segments depending on the stage you’re in – whether you’re still in translating, reviewing, editing etc. Compared to Trados and MemoQ, Déjà vu X3 offers pretty much the same for a lower price.
What’s more, SDL Trados AutoSuggest features are already considered outdated compared to the Déjà vu X3’s. Déjà vu offers ‘autosuggest’ options very quickly, basically as soon as you confirm your last segment.