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Advantages of Human Translation & CAT Tools

A common misapprehension exists among people everywhere, especially those not working in or related to the translation profession, that translation is nothing but a straightforward mechanical process comprising a simple word-for-word correspondence between two languages that anyone proficient in two language pairs could easily handle. To this end, we are bound to say that a simple word for word translation can only apply to machine translation whereas human translation and God-created human brain are totally different.

Human translation or the God-created human brain of a professional translator is backed by study and experience to which the translator resorts to when need demands. He knows how the job is to be done, understands the Translation Paradigm and knows how to apply it. Putting his senses to good use, he is capable to learn, develop and update his knowledge, thereby constantly undergoes a non-stop developmental process of knowledge absorption that pours to expand his personal and professional experience.

Consequently, a professional translator can solve problems and can make correct decisions regarding issues such as; ambiguity, the correct choice of the exact accurate word to be used among a long line of synonymous meanings to convey the exact meaning of the source document into the translated document, the correct decision regarding when to add or take off words to support the meaning and clearly convey it, how to bridge the linguistic and cultural gaps between two languages and cultures while crossing the cultural barriers, how to use the right collocations, how to use the right approach, style and tone of the author while observing, at the same time, the language conventions in order to finally create a translated document (target language) that is a mirror copy of the source document conveying the exact message of the author and conforming to the translation ISO being IDEA, STYLE AND ORIGNIAL COMPOSITION.

However, we are not against machine translation but we are in favour of Human Translation supported by Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tools. In order to conserve time, money and quality, CAT tools, including Translation Memory (TM), have become very popular with translators, translation agencies, and even clients.

Although TM has its advantages and disadvantages for professional translators and translation bureaux, it has advantages and virtually no disadvantages for clients.

Firstly, the great advantage of TM lies in the capacity of translation quality which is likely to improve in terms of consistency, both in the same document and throughout other documents. TM saves pairs of terms or strings of texts, and reproduces them whenever the same Source Language (SL) term or string comes along in any other place in the document being translated. Therefore, it helps to maintain consistency by always using the same equivalent for the same term or string. In other words, the translation becomes more efficient and consistent. Moreover, the same TM can always be used with future translations, thus achieving consistency in terms of terminology and style throughout the translation projects.

Secondly, Terminology search is said to account for 75 percent of a translator’s time. Thus TM saves the translator’s time by sparing him the need to look up the terms and words again if they are repeated in the text, especially in the case of large projects, or in another translation from the same client or in the same field of specialization. The translator will translate repeated terms and strings only once and TM will ‘translate’ them whenever they appear again in the SL which saves time. TM also spares the translator the need to strain his memory in remembering how he translated a certain term or string before or the need to go back searching through the document to locate it.

Thirdly, TM increases productivity which can lead to an increase in income. This accounts for the fact that many clients now are not only aware of but also require that their work be translated by TM software. In other words, the use of TM makes translation agencies more competitive by being distinguished from others who do not use TM, thus they are more likely to receive more work. Finally, TM is quite portable. It can be stored on a CD or a ‘ Flash Memory Stick’.

In spite of all the above advantages of TM, we have to admit that it is a tool that can only be used for technical documents comprising a certain amount of repetition such as manuals, brochures, and balance sheets that contain a considerable number of repetitions and need to be updated quite often. This is where TM comes in to achieve consistency and efficiency. On the other hand, TMs are not likely to be used for literary texts where the context plays a more important role compared to non-literary texts. Literary texts are also characterized by their figurative language and elevated style which makes them difficult to translate with TM. Moreover, literary texts do not seem to have the same amount of repetition as technical texts.

We therefore conclude that making use of human translation together with CAT tools is the ultimate goal that any client must seek to be sure to achieve an originally efficient and consistent translation quality.

Source by Noha Mostafa

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