The CAT lady (not talking about felines)

A long time ago, shortly after the Stone Age but before today, I joined proZ. At first, I used it only to look up terms that didn’t turn up in WordReference. Later on, I started exploring other areas. Back then, they had a section called CATfight, where you could compare and rate different computer-aided translation (CAT) programs, such as TRADOS, MetaTexis, Wordfast, and Deja Vu.

At the time, I had been employed for about a year at the nonprofit that is still my employer. I did all of my translation work the old-fashioned way: armed only with a few dictionaries and reference books, hard copies of previous translations, and a big strong cup of coffee. I had heard of websites that would do a crude translation, often with humorous or just plain bizarre results, but I had never heard of CAT tools. That is not surprising. CAT tools are not sold in the aisles of Best Buy, next to the screen savers and the Windows upgrades.

I went ahead and downloaded trial versions of the aforementioned programs, figuring one of those would increase my productivity at work:

  1. TRADOS: I think this was the first program I downloaded. I suspect this may have affected my impressions, because I hated, hated, HATED it. The formatting tags drove me batty. I uninstalled it and moved on. Later on, when I got my first assignment as a freelancer, I purchased version 6.5. After all, since so many translators use TRADOS, and so many of the jobs posted at the job board required TRADOS, I absolutely had to have it, right? And so, without reading this article, I went ahead and bought it. Do I regret it? No. TRADOS is a very powerful tool once you bother to read the accompanying documentation and take the time to learn it. However, it was naive of me to assume that this purchase would be followed by customers falling from the skies.
  2. Wordfast: Like TRADOS, at first it eluded me. Not only that, but it wreaked havoc with my word-processing program. My own difficulties aside, Wordfast has fans due to its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. At the time I downloaded it, it was available for free. Currently, it costs 180 euros (roughly $216.61 USD), a steal compared to the cost of other tools.
  3. MetaTexis: I can’t remember my experience with MetaTexis. Didn’t like it, moved on to the next one on the list.
  4. Deja Vu a.k.a. DVX: This was the winner. Its Professional version was available as a demo. I found it rather easy to learn. Once the 30-day trial period expired, I convinced my boss to purchase the Standard version. The Standard version lacks some of the features that hooked me in, such as the AutoPropagate for repeated segments, and AutoCorrect, which would have come in handy for all those time I type hte instead of the, or verificaci[on instead of verificación (that pesky Spanish keyboard!) However, I still can build a translation memory by aligning an original text and its translation, or prepare a glossary by using the Lexicon tool.
  5. SDLX: SDLX is made by the same company that makes TRADOS. Or more accurately, the company that makes SDLX acquired the company that makes TRADOS. A few years after getting DVX for my office, I downloaded a trial version of SDLX. I found it very similar to DVX and relatively easy to use. Although I did not recommend my employer purchase it, nor did I buy it myself, I can see myself buying it in the future.

One Response to “The CAT lady (not talking about felines)”

  1. Gavri Eshed Says:

    Hi Jo-Hanna,
    Thanks for sharing with us your blog. It is just great. I am considering to use one of the programs you mentioned. I looked at MetaTexis and it seems very useful and doesn’t make a hole in your pocket….
    Was it really so bad?
    Have a nice weekend, Gavri

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