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What is the difference between CAT and MT?

What is the difference between CAT and MT?

When your Language Service Provider speaks of CAT, they’re referring to Computer Assisted Translation tools that increase your human translators’ capacity to rapidly produce excellent translations. These “tools” are software functions that decrease the cost and speed up translation of many types of text. On the other hand, MT – Machine Translation – takes the role of primary translator, producing texts that human translators adjust and edit.

CAT software includes combinations of the following translation aids:

  • Translation memory (a database of text segments and their translations)
  • Terminology banks and management
  • Search tools
  • Dictionaries in multiple languages
  • Spell checkers
  • Grammar checkers
  • Alignment software (memory that compares fragments)
  • Concordances (a record of words used and the contexts in which they appear)
  • Project management functions (tracking of every aspect of a project, from the workflow plan to progress on individual tasks)

Human translators use these tools as they translate the text they have loaded into the CAT program. As you might guess, there is a significant learning curve with such sophisticated software. At Skrivanek, our linguists are thoroughly trained and then tested.

Most translators use CAT tools and feel strongly that they improve quality, efficiency, and speed. The fact that CAT tools have such impact has led to lower rates for translation jobs, which of course means cheaper translation and localization for LSP customers. Unfortunately, the sophistication of CAT and MT can lead to the false conclusion that human translators are not as valuable as they once were. In fact, these complex tools would have little value without the manipulations and oversight of the human mind that weaves CAT-translated fragments and human-translated passages together into a complete translation with meaningful context and a readable voice.

In a world of global issues, commerce, and travel, the boost that translation production receives from CAT tools answers a real need. Language Service Providers have more work than ever, and even during the financial downturns of recent decades companies like Skrivanek have continued to grow. CAT tools are one of the reasons you’re able to localize effectively for two or ten countries at once, and we’re here to help you make that happen.


J. V. McShulskis



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