cat translation software

CAT-software and Machine Translation

In this post, I will tell you more about CAT-software and Machine Translation. About choosing the right translation software, and determining your translation rate when you are actually using it for your assignments. How do translation agencies deal with translation software and what do customers think of translation software and machine translations? A lot to discuss, so let’s start!

I will now tell you about my experiences with translation software (CAT-software). There are some hurdles here as well. Although such software brings benefits, it also poses difficulties in setting rates. But let’s start from the beginning.

Choosing the right translation software

Most translation software programs aim to support you in the translation process. As a disclaimer, we are not talking here about a fully automated translation process (machine translation) but the right translation software can save you a lot of time and energy.

When I made my own choice, about 8 years ago, I first delved into the different programs. There wasn’t much translation software on the market yet. This made it easier to make the right decision.

During that time, I also sought advice from the various translation agencies I worked for. Translation memories were not so easily transferable from one software program to another. Therefore, translation agencies liked it when you used the same CAT program and in return, they gave you more assignments. I then discovered that SDL Trados was the most common program used by translation agencies and purchased this program.

Buying such a program is quite expensive. So, it is important to think carefully about this first, before buying it. In the coming months, we will make your translation software choice easier. We will give you in-depth information and reviews about the most common translation programs.

How do translation agencies deal with translation software?

At the moment, there are many translation agencies that have their own translation programs in the cloud. This gives them the advantage that they have the translation memories (TM’s) entirely under their own management. Sending translation packages back and forth is then no longer necessary. Moreover, in this case translation agencies can keep a better eye on the translation process.

Nowadays, it is very easy for translators to use automated translations. Translation software is not only used as support, but also as a machine translation. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, but as a professional translator, you need to handle this well and follow through with the editing and proofreading process! Unfortunately, there are translators who find the temptation too great and as a result, they tend to deliver their translation as quickly as possible without checking. That is why such a translation cloud can never be linked to a plug-in for an automated translation.

translation software

Determining your translation rate after purchasing a translation software

Now, we come to a tricky point. Translation software is an expensive purchase for a freelance translator. The amounts involved are above 500 USD per program.

You might think you could take advantage of this. After all, this software ensures that you can translate more consistently and accurately. Repetitions in your translations are easily picked up by this software. So, the translation is faster.

Unfortunately, practice is different. Nowadays, every translation agency actually assumes that you have translation software at your disposal. This gives them the impression that they don’t need to count the repetitive words and sentence. Even sentences that are only partially the same (so-called fuzzy matches) are reason for a deduction. Many translation agencies give you the opportunity to negotiate about this. The reality, however, is that most agencies have already drawn up a standard rate and would only need to ask you to agree to it.


I have never looked into the correct rate for partial repetitions (so-called “fuzzy matches”) in a translation. This is such a complicated calculation. I would advise you to focus on the rate you want to earn per hour. Registering your hours per client using a free app can be very helpful. You can then calculate how many words you can translate within an hour and then determine the desired word rate.

Fortunately, many translation agencies now use translation software in a cloud where you can work on it. For many translators, this will be a reason not to buy an expensive software program right at the beginning of their career. The disadvantage, however, is that you cannot build up a translation memory yourself.

What do customers think of translation software and machine translations?

Customers who place a translation order with a translation agency naturally assume that this translation will be carried out very accurately. Switching on translation software ensures that a lower translation rate is possible. This is of course an advantage for the customer who has to pay less. And the translation agency also benefits from this because they can get more orders. The arrival of automated translations (machine translation) does, of course, make customers a little more nervous when they are informed of this. Ignorance about the exact translation process feeds this uncertainty. This is a task for a translation agency to reassure the customer.

How do some translation agencies handle machine translations?

I am frequently dealing with translation agencies that use machine translation in their market strategy. In this way, they can reduce their rates even more and win more orders. However, in this case, the translator is only used as a proofreader. At this moment (November 2020), no machine translation is yet able to handle the process of translating + editing all by itself. In other words, the proofreader is given an impossible task if he wants to meet his hourly rate.

In the coming weeks I will go deeper into translation rates. What are the advantages of a low rate and when is it better to charge a higher rate?

But first there will be a post on the consequences of the current COVID19 crisis for translators.

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