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Do I really need to hire a translator?

If you have a document that is important, either to your business or to yourself, then it would be wise to consult a professional.

Here’s a good analogy. If you have a common cold, you would probably be comfortable asking a friend or relative to suggest possible remedies. But if you think you might have pneumonia, you will surely consult a medical professional. Similarly, you will consult a legal professional for your important legal matters. Relying on a casual translation of an important document could have disastrous results.

What about machine translation, such as Google Translate?

It will not give you a polished translation (and maybe not even a coherent one), but it might be enough to get the gist of what has been said in an e-mail or an informal letter.

What is computer-assisted translation?

Computer-aided translation (CAT) refers to the use of professional translation software tools designed to make the translator’s job more accurate and less time consuming. It is not the same thing as machine translation. All the translation is done by a human translator. CAT tools are various software programs that are now being more-commonly referred to as Translation Environment Tools (TEnTs).

There are two main types of databases included in most TEnTs: translation memories and termbases. When first installed, the databases contain no data. As the translator works, each source-language sentence is stored in the translation memory along with the translation entered by the translator. If the same source sentence appears later, the TEnT will display the previous translation from its memory. Since repetitive translation of the same sentence is eliminated, TEnTs are especially useful for documents that are frequently updated.

Similarly, the translator can enter terms and their translations into the termbase. When the same term occurs in a new sentence, the TEnT displays the correct translation. Together, these databases greatly reduce translation time and ensure consistency in terminology. As the translator constantly increases the size of the TEnT’s databases, the more benefit is derived from its use.