What Is Computer Assisted Translation?

Updated on :October 17, 2023
By :Intersog

Thanks to AI and machine learning, processes such as data search, file selection, and transfer are done in the blink of an eye. We no longer have to perform specific tasks that can drain our resources manually.

The manual work can be replaced or supported by advanced tools and software applications. For instance, AI is now used in computer-assisted translation (CAT). And that is precisely what we will elaborate on here.

CAT is the interactive work between humans and machines to facilitate the process of translation and provide a high-quality outcome.

Therefore, once translators know the significance of using computer-assisted translation, they will be aware of the importance of having access to several CAT tools. Buyers of translation services should also require computer-assisted translation because it is more reliable than a manual one.

To help you understand the concept of CAT better, in this article, we will elaborate on the following.

Machine Translation vs. Computer-Assisted Translation

When it comes to computer-assisted translation, most people have a vague picture of what the concept really covers. In reality, most of the time, people mix it with machine translation. For that purpose, we will try to make things more transparent and help you understand the difference between machine translation and computer-assisted translation.

Machine Translation - Quick and Easy, but Not So Reliable

Just so you get a grip on what machine translation is, simply think of Google Translate. You have probably used Google Translate at some point, even if you aren't a professional translator.

A perfect example of using Google Translate is when traveling to a foreign country. Maybe you were in Germany and were trying to ask for directions? So, you just opened this multilingual free machine translation tool developed by Google. And that is how you managed to get by. So, here is a more in-depth definition of how machine translation works.

Machine translation is the automatic process of translating content from one language into another. Machine translation excludes human intelligence, and it is based on computerized processes. The perks of using machine translation are the saving in cost and the time. To use a machine translation software like Google Translate, you don't have to pay a thing, and you will get your translation fast.

Google Translate is a convenient option for the conversion of shorter chunks of text. However, if you want to get a longer text translated all at once, you should explore other machine translation software options.

Nevertheless, the dark side of machine translation is its inaccuracy. This type of conversion doesn't guarantee you a 100% accurately translated text. In fact, for some complex words, phrases, or sayings, you won't even get a translation. So, don't rush into relying on machine translation, because it doesn't offer substantial support.

What is more, machine translation will provide a literal word-by-word translation. And, we all know that literal translations are far from what the accurate version should be, right?

Machine translation is usually used to understand the general gist of a text. Sometimes people use machine translation to provide a "rough" first draft of the reading and smooth it out later. Nevertheless, you have to be careful because this practice may be a waste of time.

Machine translation can twist the meaning or offer an opposite meaning for a phrase. And, you have to go back to the original version to check things out. And by doing so, you will end up making a double effort!


Computer-Assisted Translation: Human Translation, Enhanced by Computer Tools

Computer-assisted translation refers to the process of human translation aided with computer tools. Therefore, the human translator deducts the meaning of each word, phrase, and sentence and transfers it into another language. Computer tools are used to accelerate the process.

Are you aware that all of us use computerized tools in our every-day writing even though we might not be aware of it? For instance, the spell-check and spell-correction tools are saving a lot of time and effort for many of us, right?

These tools help us proofread our work in a few seconds! So, instead of looking up the proper spelling of a word in a dictionary, the spell-check will provide you with the right spelling. Another useful CAT tool is the computerized dictionary. Using the digital version of the dictionary is an excellent way to spare time and effort. All you have to do is insert the word in the search area and press "Enter". Voila!

Due to the access to digital dictionaries, nowadays the usage of paperback dictionaries is already getting obsolete. And why not use a shortcut that will ensure quality, don't you think?

Other than the spell-check and digital dictionary, here are the examples of some more complex and advanced CAT tools.

Computer-assisted Translation Tools

Translation Memory Tools

These are databases of text in the original language and translations into several other languages. This tool divides the units into segments. It is responsible for storing the content into the database of already translated parts. So, as the translator goes further with the translation, the translation memory tool offers them suggestions that are similar to the already translated segments.

Terminology Managers 

These help translators maintain and manage consistent terminology throughout a translation, especially when it comes to translating marketing and customer-related content. The integration of AI techniques like NLP and content recognition streamlines this process because AI systems capture, extract, and analyze text content to identify the point the author writes about and find in-context patterns and terminology in a few seconds.

Terminology Databases

These tools can be either downloaded or used online to help the translator get accurate terminology for the translation. These databases allow the translator to add terms and check whether it consistently translated the added words throughout the draft.

Bitext Aligner 

It is a tool that aligns the translated and the original text side by side so that the translator can compare the two versions more efficiently. The software will attempt to fit each segment of the original work with the translated text.

Full-Text Search Tools 

These are also called indexers. Full-text search tools enable the translator to search for various kinds of already translated documents.

All of these computer tools are essential for keeping track of possible mistakes done by the translator, enhancing the quality of the translation.

What is more, CAT tools won't interfere with the authenticity of the translated content. So, the interpretation, in general, carries the imprint of the translator. The conveying of the meaning is done by how the translator understands a particular phrase or sentence.

And CAT tools will only make it more accurate. It is why CAT is of great value to translators, and it can find its application in other business fields as well. 


The Value of Computer Assisted Translation to Modern Businesses

Statistics show that around 85% of translators already use CAT tools in their work. However, the rest 15% are still unwilling to grasp the potential of CAT. It is mostly because of the limited understanding of CAT and the fear of being replaced by technology.

Once translators become aware of the useful CAT software or platforms, they can use the potential of the tools to excel in their careers. Overall, translators show a 40% to 60% increase in productivity when they use CAT tools in their translation process. The combination of human creation, assisted with computerized machines is the key to quality content creation and translation.

Content Creation and Translation as Key Features to Any Business

We all know the importance of creating quality content within the digital world. Content creation will not only help your business and website get on Google's first page, but it will also keep you closer to your customers and clients. Content creation can be a way of earning and making your business profitable.

Besides, you should note that content creation goes hand in hand with content translation. And this practice takes place within international businesses. Nowadays, companies are expanding globally, and there is a growing need for quality translation of their websites, resources, and marketing materials.

Quality content translation also is required for professional communication between businesses and individuals. It is the reason why translators are becoming an integral part of every global company. And once companies jot down the importance of translators and quality translations, they can understand the significance of CAT tools.

Due to the database system of computer-assisted translation, the work on their websites, emails, or even text documents will be more reliable and professional. 

5 Useful CAT Software Products You Can Explore

So, aren’t you excited to try the top CAT software? We will help you with a list!

SDL Trados Studio

Customers say that SDL Trados Studio is an efficient and customizable terminology resource. Even though some of them had issues at the very start with the complex interface, they say that using this software is going to be worth your time.

Over 250,000 professional translators use SDL Trados Studio, and they all give it a high score concerning its usability. Its primary purpose is to edit and review translations, organize terminology, manage translation projects, and connect machine translation. Except for SDL Trados Studio, SDL also offers the productivity tools SDL MultiTerm and SDL Passolo. 


The all-in-one cloud-based software platform connects businesses and translators. And it is completely free of charge! So, don't wait to try it out. Even though the initial purpose of Smartcat was to be a CAT tool, it got upgraded into a collaborative solution for translators, editors, and businesses. Nowadays, Smartcat is a platform used as a CAT tool, a TMS, and a job board.


Lokalise is a translation management system and multi-platform. The primary purpose of this platform is localization and translation for agile teams. It also offers you various other options.

  • Collaborate and manage your projects on one platform.
  • Translate the localization files.
  • Translate an integral part of the development and deployment process.
  • Add screenshots for recognition and fit them with the text in your project.
  • Set up automated workflows. 

Lokalise is also adding Sketch artboards so that translators can start working before the start of the development process. The software offers you a real-time preview of how translations will look like on the web or mobile app. It makes the platform ideal not just for translators, but also for developers and project managers. 


The SaSS-based, translation and localization platform, is for startups and enterprises that want to spread internationally. Transifex is a CAT tool that helps you translate websites, games, videos, subtitles, help centers, etc. You have a 15-day free trial version so that you can try out their services and see if they are going to be the right fit for you.


With Phrase, you can manage your localization and collaborate with your team on the same platform. This CAT tool cuts the time that you would spend on integrating your manually translated files.

The CAT tool Phrase will enhance the quality of your work with the following features: Translation Memory, In-Text Editor, Glossary, Smart Suggest, etc. These features will help you be more consistent throughout the translation and make sure the text has a flow. You can also coordinate your team and assign tasks with due dates through the organizational section on Phrase. 

Final Thoughts

All in all, computer-assisted translation should be an essential part of the workflow of every modern translator. Every good translator should opt for using computerized tools to increase the efficiency, productivity, and quality of a translation. Grasping the new ways of computer-aided interpretations is a path to obtaining continual success.

Also, CAT shouldn't be mixed with machine translation as it often is. Machine translation relies on AI, and the outcome may not be as expected. It can come with various flaws, shortcomings, and alterations of what should be an authentic translation. Therefore, professionals should try to use computer-assisted translation as a more reliable option compared to machine translation. 

Now that you are aware of the benefits that CAT can bring to your translation work, why don't you explore some of the CAT software options mentioned above? And, there are many more listed here on GoodFirms such as memoQ, Smartling, Déjà Vu, etc. Apart from these, you can also try the free and open-source computer-assisted translation software.

If you have tried any CAT software, post a review here!


Intersog is a Chicago-based IT consulting company that has been providing custom software development and tech staffing solutions for North America and European clients for over 14 years. The company helps businesses solve their tech challenges and stay ahead of the competition by leveraging the latest technologies.

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