Translation software is essential for performing high-quality translation, especially in the clinical trial and medical field, as it facilitates and speeds up translators’ work by keeping terminology consistent throughout the file.

CAT stands for computer-aided translation, which means that a CAT tool is a computer program that helps to translate text documents more efficiently through four main functions:

  • A CAT tool divides sentences and phrases into segments in one environment, along with the source text. This segmentation facilitates work and makes the translation process easier and faster.
  • Another important point here is that the translation of each segment is saved together with the source text. The source text and translation are indicated as a translation unit.
  • One of the main functions of CAT tools is the ability to save the translated segments in translation memory (TM) so they can be used again when translating the same text, or text that is very similar to the one that has been already translated. Through special ‘fuzzy search’ features, the search functions of CAT tools even find segments that do not match 100%. This process saves a lot of time and effort and produces consistent translation.
  • The fourth basic function of a CAT tool is the reference the translator can make with the terminology database.

Besides these four main functions, many other functions are included in a CAT tool that also make translating easier and increase productivity:

  • Text search tools, index/concordance tools, statistical tools providing information about the translation process, and alignment tools. Many translations have not been translated with the help of a CAT tool, so they will not be found in the Translation memory. Therefore, we need to create a TM based on the already translated text, and this could be easily achieved with an alignment tool.

The greatest benefits of CAT tools include powerful translation memory, meaning that the translator never has to translate the same sentence twice; it also provides one integrated environment for all translation, review and project management needs.

TMs are databases that store source sentences and their translations as segment pairs, called translation units. The TM remembers each sentence that is translated so the translation can be easily retrieved from the TM database. If an identical or similar sentence comes up later, it does not need to be translated from scratch. This technology offers two main advantages:

  • Faster turnaround times
  • Full consistency and high quality: with TM technology, the translator will keep the same translation for text that is the same throughout the file, but it is placed in different parts of the main text.

Professional translators always work with CAT tools to produce work that is consistent in terminology and formatting. Every good translation company should invest in the latest technology and the most advanced versions of translation software to guarantee the best possible work.

Probably the most popular translation programs nowadays are Trados Studio, MemoQ, Wordfast and Across, as well as a great number of online CAT tools that could be easily accessed via your browser. However, every professional translator should have at least one CAT tool installed on his computer to guarantee that he has substantial experience on a vast number of projects and has created, saved and accumulated translation memories and termbases he could use in current and future projects.

Here we shall take a look at some of the Trados Studio features (most CAT tools have very similar functions) that will give some additional information on what has been mentioned above.

An important feature of Trados Studio is the AutoSuggest Dictionaries. TMs store whole segments, the AutoSuggest dictionaries function helps to extract segment fragments. When working with an AutoSuggest dictionary, it will give you the option to choose from segment fragments while typing.

Another feature of Trados Studio is the AutoPropagation process. This is the process when the confirmed translation from one segment is applied to other segments in the same document.

Terminology database (termbase) is another important feature of Trados Studio. This is similar to electronic dictionaries. They contain single words or expressions rather than storing whole sentences. Creating and maintaining termbases is used for storing specific terms that cannot be found in standard dictionaries.

Another feature of Trados Studio is the AutoPropagation process. This is the process when the confirmed translation from one segment is applied to other segments in the same document. This speeds up the translation workflow and keeps consistency throughout the text.

At NN Translations, we work with a number of CAT tools to provide our clients with impeccable quality for their clinical trial projects. Contact us for more information on how we can help you with your translation and/or cognitive debriefing needs today!