Fellow C>E Translators

Which CAT tools do you use? I’ve finally gotten around to looking into this, especially as some of my recent translations have been huge.

I had a TRADOS demo for a while but at the time I couldn’t be bothered to learn how to use it-it’s very comprehensive! Also a friend of mine says that it’s not necessarily the best one for Chinese.

I looked at wordfast which seemed much easier…but since installing it, word won’t display flowcharts and other images- I can’t uninstall it easier.

What do you use…why?

Here are the tools I generally use for translation:

Dr. Eye - enhanced with a growing database of user-defined entries. This is the only true Computer Aided Translation tool I use.

In addition, I use these computer and printed resources:

Google - an indispensable resource that has saved my butt numerous times

ABC Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary - there is no better C-E dictionary on the face of the earth (the Wenlin database incorporates it)

Various online dictionaries like Lin Yu-Tang’s dictionary and the CUHK database

The searchable articles at Sinorama’s website (Chinese articles with English translations)

For finding pronunciations and basic meanings of obscure characters: the Unihan Database and the Kangxi Dictionary

For CAT, nothing beats MetaTexis (http://www.metatexis.com). Cheaper than Trados (I mean a LOT cheaper) and has more functions, plus the developer answers your queries personally and rapidly. He’s even sent me a custom beta version when I had a problem.

Good answers so far, I’ll have to investigate the suggestions you’ve all given.

I tried Trados once for a huge job a couple of years ago, and just didn’t like it. My sense is that if you don’t get large volumes of repetitive text or annual updates for standardized documents, and if they don’t come in editable format (i.e. a Word document or the like), then the expense for Trados can’t really be justified. I get most of my work in PDF files made from graphic captures, and since OCR software for Chinese just isn’t that good (cue Ironlady’s protest here?) I have no use for Trados. Or any other CAT tool.

I use, and swear by, the indexed search software ISYS:desktop. It’s so expensive they don’t even list the price on the website, as they expect that only corporate customers will be interested. If I recall it was in the neighbourhood of US$700 a few years ago, but I got a deal at half price because I attempted to get a few other translators to buy it at the same time (they didn’t, but ISYS was nice to me all the same). I use it to search my homemade glossaries and other priceless information I have stored on my hard drive. It’s beautiful in those situations when you come across an arcane sentence construction you translated once in 2002 but don’t recall exactly how you did it, just that you did it well.

When I fire up my computer in the morning I click on Mozilla and instantly get ten windows in tabbed browsers:

  1. google.com/advanced_search?hl=zh-CN
  2. google.com/advanced_search?hl=zh-TW
  3. google.com/advanced_search
  5. sinica.edu.tw/~tdbproj/dict/index.html
  6. onelook.com/
  7. baidu.com/gaoji/advanced.html
  8. bendi.google.com/clochp
  9. zhongwen.com/zi.htm
  10. dictionary.sina.com.hk/index.html

I think the best advice anyone could give you is to keep your own glossaries in various subject areas. Dictionaries are great, but they will never be comprehensive or all things to everyone. You cannot rely only on them. I rarely look at any of the hard copy dictionaries I’ve accumulated over the years, mostly because the specialized scientific or technical terms that might throw me for a loop are never in them, but must be deduced by intensive googling in both English and Chinese. You know what I use most? Number 6 on my list. Hundreds of times per day I find myself either checking on the precise meaning of a term in English I intend to use, or finding synonyms for repetitive terms (one level in at Dictionary.com). Precision of meaning and expression is paramount.