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Can a translator work without any CAT tools?
Autor de la hebra: joannebenz

joannebenz
inglés al alemán
Mar 28

Hi,
I have a degree in translation, but I do not know how to use any CAT tools at all.
Is it possible at all - in this day and age - to work as a translator and only use pen and paper and the good old dictionary, like back in the 80s? and if not why is that not an option? It was possible back then, so why not now?

I would appreciate a genuine response because this is a genuine question.
I simply do not like nor manage to learn those tools and prefer the old fash
... See more
Hi,
I have a degree in translation, but I do not know how to use any CAT tools at all.
Is it possible at all - in this day and age - to work as a translator and only use pen and paper and the good old dictionary, like back in the 80s? and if not why is that not an option? It was possible back then, so why not now?

I would appreciate a genuine response because this is a genuine question.
I simply do not like nor manage to learn those tools and prefer the old fashioned way. And I do not mind pen and paper (meaning the use of WORD and the good old dictionary.
I am fluent in English and German and have no problem with the languages, I can translate both ways easily. EN < > DE, however, slightly more comfortable into English, just have an aversion to those tools.

thanks
Joanne
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Ali Sharifi  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 13:09
Miembro 2019
inglés al farsi (persa)
+ ...
CAT is not essential Mar 28

joannebenz wrote:

Hi,
I have a degree in translation, but I do not know how to use any CAT tools at all.
Is it possible at all - in this day and age - to work as a translator and only use pen and paper and the good old dictionary, like back in the 80s? and if not why is that not an option? It was possible back then, so why not now?

I would appreciate a genuine response because this is a genuine question.
I simply do not like nor manage to learn those tools and prefer the old fashioned way. And I do not mind pen and paper (meaning the use of WORD and the good old dictionary.
I am fluent in English and German and have no problem with the languages, I can translate both ways easily. EN < > DE, however, slightly more comfortable into English, just have an aversion to those tools.

thanks
Joanne


Liviu-Lee Roth
Rachel Fell
Morano El-Kholy
Teresa Borges
 

Ali Sharifi  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 13:09
Miembro 2019
inglés al farsi (persa)
+ ...
CAT is not essential Mar 28

To translate, you do not need CAT tools. I have been translating without these tools for years.
However, these tools facilitate the job. It is up to you to use them or not.


Teresa Borges
Morano El-Kholy
Min
Germaine
 

Liviu-Lee Roth
Estados Unidos
Local time: 13:09
rumano al inglés
+ ...
it depends on the field of expertise Mar 29

I work for the federal law enforcement and my customers have expressly requested NOT to use CAT tools. Period.
lee


Teresa Borges
 

Joseph Tein  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 10:09
Miembro 2009
español al inglés
+ ...
CAT tools are wonderful ... and not essential Mar 29

Your "aversion" to CAT tools limits the possibilities and advantages you could gain by using them. They make some projects go much easier and quicker. And ... they're not essential. I used WordFast for years, loved it, and did not renew my license because they have DOUBLED the price! Trados is even more expensive. I can do most of my projects without a CAT tool.

ProZ has been an indispensable (I really mean that -- indispensable) help in doing my work. The help from colleagues a
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Your "aversion" to CAT tools limits the possibilities and advantages you could gain by using them. They make some projects go much easier and quicker. And ... they're not essential. I used WordFast for years, loved it, and did not renew my license because they have DOUBLED the price! Trados is even more expensive. I can do most of my projects without a CAT tool.

ProZ has been an indispensable (I really mean that -- indispensable) help in doing my work. The help from colleagues and from the glossaries has saved my life many times. And over the years I've developed extensive glossaries that are a great help when I come across terms that I've translated before. There are also many helpful online dictionaries, some of them general and some specialized. I'd say these resources are more valuable than a CAT tool, overall.

Some clients will insist on a CAT tool. You just tell them "sorry, can't do it" and they'll find somebody else who doesn't have this unnecessary aversion to them.

Good luck with your work.
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Teresa Borges
Min
Maria G. Piras
 

RobinB  Identity Verified
Estados Unidos
Local time: 12:09
alemán al inglés
It depends on your clients Mar 29

Hi Joanne,

It will really depend on your clients and how productive and profitable you want to be. If you can find clients who aren't interested in receiving translations in CAT tool output formats (in particular XLIFF files), and if you're happy to sacrifice the undisputed productivity advantages of using TMs (e.g. easy reusability of previous translations, using large TM collections as a searchable terminology database), then you'll presumably be OK.

I work for a mixt
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Hi Joanne,

It will really depend on your clients and how productive and profitable you want to be. If you can find clients who aren't interested in receiving translations in CAT tool output formats (in particular XLIFF files), and if you're happy to sacrifice the undisputed productivity advantages of using TMs (e.g. easy reusability of previous translations, using large TM collections as a searchable terminology database), then you'll presumably be OK.

I work for a mixture of direct clients who aren't interested in what tools etc. I use, and agency and translation department clients who either expect me to work in my CAT tool or at least prefer me to deliver XLIFF files in addition to MS Office files. I certainly couldn't work for my direct clients as productively and profitably if I didn't use a CAT tool.

Learning how to use a CAT tool should only take a few hours at most. For even the more advanced tools, it's not going to take more than a day to learn all you need to know for day-to-day operations. I know translators who work mostly for retail clients, e.g. certificates, that sort of thing. They held out against using CAT tools for a long time, for example because so many of their input texts are paper documents or poor scans. Now they have the software to scan and OCR those input documents to produce high-quality electronic fils, they are really reaping the benefits of using CAT programs. Even literary translators are now using CAT tools.

Robin
PS: Back in the 1980s, we used fax and couriers, or even the postal service, to get our work to our clients. Those days are long gone. So, I would suggest, are the "CAT-less" days, except as a very much minority activity. I started using CAT tools back in the early 1990s (I was a beta tester for DV).
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Fatine777
Kevin Fulton
Dan Lucas
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 01:09
Miembro
chino al inglés
+ ...
. Mar 29

You know, there's a thread on the exact same topic, in this very forum, less than 1/3 of a page below.

Yurim Jung
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Países Bajos
Local time: 19:09
Miembro 2006
inglés al afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, but your options are severely limited Mar 29

joannebenz wrote:
Is it possible at all - in this day and age - to work as a translator and only use [Microsoft Word] and [non-internet based terminological resources]?


Yes. In my personal experience, not all clients require the use of CAT tools, and the majority of texts sent by clients who do not require CAT tools are mostly non-repetitive. I usually use CAT tools whether the client requested it or not, so I have an idea of how many texts get a speed boost from fuzzy matching, and the answer is: a fair number, but not a large number. If we do not take into account all the other ways that CAT tools make you faster, and consider only fuzzy matching, my use of CAT tools make me only about 20-30% faster overall (not including clients who require CAT tools).

However, the easiest way for translators who do not have large client bases yet to break into the translation market is to work for agencies, and agencies typically require a certain level of throughput that would be difficult to manage without some sort of technological assistance. Not all agencies require the use of CAT tools, but many of them give preference to translators who do or that are willing to adjust their workflow to accommodate such tools.

I would appreciate a genuine response because this is a genuine question.


We believe you. So, please, tell us what you thought of the responses in this thread:
https://www.proz.com/forum/translation_theory_and_practice/340085-working_without_cat_tools.html


philgoddard
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 18:09
Miembro 2007
inglés
+ ...
IT skills in general are indispensable Mar 29

I would say that if you've already made a name for yourself as the go-to translator for a specialised field in your pair, you can probably get by quite well without a CAT tool. You will find a number of doors shut to you, and that may affect your ability to fill your days, but the bulk of the better-paying jobs should still come your way.

OTOH, I think the trend is towards more IT use in general, as you'd expect. Many agencies are now expecting translators to use online interfaces f
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I would say that if you've already made a name for yourself as the go-to translator for a specialised field in your pair, you can probably get by quite well without a CAT tool. You will find a number of doors shut to you, and that may affect your ability to fill your days, but the bulk of the better-paying jobs should still come your way.

OTOH, I think the trend is towards more IT use in general, as you'd expect. Many agencies are now expecting translators to use online interfaces for their translations. And some direct clients too, particularly those who live in the digital world, are insisting that their translators use this software, download that app, register on another, sync with something else... I recently had to pull out of a massive multilingual project with a leading web-based recruitment consultancy due to my inability to cope with the daily demands to get to grips with yet another strangely named new IT tool. I've got other avenues open to me after 20 years as a freelancer in the language industry and anyway, I'm winding down to retirement, so it doesn't worry me too much. But it is noticeable that my lack of IT skills is having more of an impact each year.

I do think that being IT-able is essential for anyone who hopes to have a career in translating ahead of them from 2020. Saying no to everything but translating Word files is simply not going to be viable in the long run. And for a generalist translator, I think the days of saying no to CAT tools are already here. With the current pinch on word rates continuing, the experienced CAT-tool user's faster work rate is going to pay dividends. I'm only a very basic user of Wordfast Classic and have never delivered an unclean file in my life as my clients don't expect me to work that way, but I wouldn't want to give up my CAT tool now.
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Anna Gorska
Liviu-Lee Roth
Jorge Payan
Min
DIANNE BEREST
 

Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 18:09
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
no need Mar 29

When I started there was no Internet. All I had was paper, a pen, dictionaries, and a brain.

Since then I have been working as a translator, for many years, without ever using any type of CAT tool and it has never been a problem.

Now that I have time (thank you Covid 19) I've begun looking into CAT tools. So far I don't see that they offer any world-changing advantages. They simplify a few things, but not to the extent that they radically speed up or improve the trans
... See more
When I started there was no Internet. All I had was paper, a pen, dictionaries, and a brain.

Since then I have been working as a translator, for many years, without ever using any type of CAT tool and it has never been a problem.

Now that I have time (thank you Covid 19) I've begun looking into CAT tools. So far I don't see that they offer any world-changing advantages. They simplify a few things, but not to the extent that they radically speed up or improve the translation process.

Roughly speaking, the type of translation I mainly do can be broken down into 3 stages:

Stage 1: the purely mechanical translation of all the words and phrases into the target language.
Stage 2: the initial proofing, when straightforward corrections are made to the translation so that the meaning is clear and there are no linguistic errors.
Stage 3: polishing and perfecting. This consists of reading, correcting, and reading again, often 5 or more times. This is the most difficult, time-intensive part of the work. Stage 3 may well also include printing out the complete text in hard copy, several times, until the translation is perfect and ready for release.

My impression is that a CAT tool can be useful in Stage 1, and to a lesser extent in Stage 2.
But in Stage 3, a CAT tool can serve no purpose.

Translators who extol the virtues of CAT tools are probably those whose work consists of mechanical translations that can be confined within Stages 1 and 2 and who never do Stage 3 because the kind of translations they do don't require it.
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Teresa Borges
Liviu-Lee Roth
Sara Massons
Kaspars Melkis
Philip Lees
Wilsonn Perez Reyes
philgoddard
 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
inglés al francés
+ ...
  Mar 29

I would not take swimming lessons from someone who has just dipped their feet into the water.

---

If you are prepared to roll the dice, then pen and paper (well, WORD and paper) is still doable.

As always, the onus to support your choice is on you.

Direct clients and a few cherry-picked translation agency collaborations for the win?

[Edited at 2020-03-29 10:20 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Países Bajos
Local time: 19:09
Miembro 2006
inglés al afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, CAT changes the way you work Mar 29

Tom in London wrote:
Roughly speaking, the type of translation I mainly do can be broken down into 3 stages...
My impression is that a CAT tool can be useful in Stage 1, and to a lesser extent in Stage 2. But in Stage 3, a CAT tool can serve no purpose.


This may be a hurdle that is too great for some translators to cross, yes: using CAT changes the way you work.

On the one hand, there is no reason why you can't do stage 1, 2 and 3 inside the CAT tool (don't forget stage 4, polishing the layout), or add a distinct hard-copy step somewhere in between. CAT won't "help" you with stage 2, 3 and 4, but you don't have to forego stage 2, 3 and 4 simply because you're using a CAT tool.

On the other hand, why have these three stages at all? Why do a rough translation of the entire text first, and only then polish it up in successive rounds? Why not just polish up every sentence immediately after you've done the rough translation on it? The answer to these whys is that doing so would require your brain to work differently. Your mind would need to learn the mental dexterity of switching between rough-translation mode and polish-translation mode for every sentence or for every paragraph individually.

Another necessary skill to learn is the ability to pause your translation brain while you look up terms and do a bit of research during what would otherwise have been stage 1, and then unpause when you move to the next segment. This can be quite a difficult skill to learn for people who used to do most of their terminology look-up only during a distinct stage 2.

Mind you, I do follow something similar to your three stages when I do translations without CAT tools, but when I use a CAT tool, I tend to perform stage 1 and 2 (and 3) on the current and the three to five most recently translated segments continuously. (Yes, I know there are CAT tools that have a shortcut for "next segment" but no [easy] shortcut for "previous segment", but why punish yourself?)

Translators who extol the virtues of CAT tools [include] those whose work consists of mechanical translations that can be confined within Stages 1 and 2 and who never do Stage 3 because the kind of translations they do don't require it.


Using CAT tools for agencies or in workflows there the translation process is split up among multiple people does mean that translators sometimes do not need to perform stage 3, although stage 2 is seldom optional.



[Edited at 2020-03-29 11:29 GMT]


Min
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turquía
Local time: 20:09
Miembro
inglés al turco
+ ...
Pen and Paper Mar 29

I, too, remember fondly the good old life before the internet and bleeding mobile phones, but 'using pen and paper' is taking things too far even by the 80s' standards.

Yurim Jung
Oleksandr Ivanov
conejo
 

Tom in London
Reino Unido
Local time: 18:09
Miembro 2008
italiano al inglés
Bleeding Mar 29

Baran Keki wrote:

I, too, remember fondly the .... bleeding mobile phones



One day, many years from now when we're all dead, people will look back and say "do you remember the 2030s when people were obsessed with those things they called their "mobile phones" and how obsessed they were with them?"

And they'll laugh.

[Edited at 2020-03-29 12:27 GMT]


Baran Keki
Yurim Jung
Usa Sukdapisumpun
 

Yurim Jung  Identity Verified
República de Corea (Corea del Sur)
Local time: 02:09
Miembro Feb 2020
inglés al coreano
Now I'm working without CAT tools. Mar 29

Hello, joannebenz. I'm Yurim from South Korea. CAT tools are not essential to translators. I can say this because I am working with clients who do not want me to use CAT tools. Recently I am working without CAT tools because that's what my clients want. So, now you know the answer! And, wow, you have a degree in translation! That's an excellent advantage! And CAT tools are not so difficult to learn and manage. So, don't worry too much. Good luck.

Min
 
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