Computer Assisted Translation: Don't do it

Subject: Computer Assisted Translation: Don't do it
From: "Cassandra Greer" <cassandra -at- greer -dot- de>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 16:00:26 +0100

OK people - so I'm behind on my mailing list mail.

As a full-time professional translator, I must make a few things clear:

If I didn't rely on a computer at all, I would get no work since it all
comes by email or download. Plus if I did somehow get some work, I would
have to redevelop that callous on my finger that I lost years ago.

Machine Translation is not Computer Assisted Translation. Machine
translation is done entirely by a computer and hopefully there is someone at
the end who is qualified to clean up the inevitable mess - which can be
small or really really big depending on how the program has been taught.
Ex.: Babelfish, Systran, among others

Computer Assisted Translation is the use of programs that assist the
translator in his or her work. I have a bunch of CAT tools that I use all
the time. In general, they save the translations I do and let me save a few
keystrokes by letting me reuse applicable bits. They also make sure I keep
the terminology consistent (and this normally despite the customer) and also
let me use the whole corpus of source language-target language segments I've
save as a concordance. Ex.: Trados, DejaVu X, Wordfast, others

My tools do not translate for me - I do all of that; they just help me
remember what I've done before and maybe give me ideas for new stuff. And
after the translation is all "done", I go back and reread and tweak and

Cass :)

Cassandra Greer
Technical Translation and Documentation
Spilhofstr. 16
81927 Munich, Germany
+49 (89) 94004794
cassandra (at)
cassandragreer (at)

>Actually, many professional translators use computer translation
>programs as a first step in their work. This is not the same as "relying
>on" the programs, any more than you "rely on" a hammer to drive in a
>nail without any effort on your part. But the good ones are serious
>tools used by serious professionals.
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: Brasel, Russell
>> Sent: Tuesday, January 23, 2007 9:21 AM
>> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
>> Subject: Re: Computer Assisted Translation: Don't do it
>> Don't rely on the computer at all. The only method that works is to
>> have a *human* who knows both languages fluently. Most computer
>> translation programs are good only for a laugh, or to inadvertently
>> offend someone. If you doubt me, translate a passage from language X,
>> translate it into Y, and back to X. The results will be incredibly
>> mangled -- and in my experience, if the languages are in different
>> linguistic families, the results are incomprehensible.
>> Russell Brasel
>> Technical Writer


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