13th CTS Professionalisation Talk: Choosing the Right CAT Tool

CTS students were joined by MAATS alumnus Christopher Schuster, now a translator at Kocarek GmbH, to talk about the importance and power of CAT tools in the translation/localisation industry.

Christopher grew up speaking both German and English and now works for Kocarek, a German company specialising in technical translations in a huge variety of language combinations. He explained to us that the company works in a different way to other agencies in that translators are responsible for not only the linguistic output but also technical side of things, too. That is, unlike in a more traditional translation workflow, where Project Managers prepare files and handle formatting, it is the translators at Kocarek who do this, and PMs focus on communications with clients and freelancers. A typical day at Kocarek doesn’t exist, and translation, Quality Assessment and software testing are all important tasks.

Christopher also works to develop CAT tool workflows. Kocarek mainly use MemoQ, and have worked closely with the developers, Kilgray, to improve or even add new custom features. One of these Kocarek-specific features, which Christopher helped to develop, is an XML fiter with pixel-based length checks. In less-specialist terms, this means that files which have extremely specific requirements, for example strict limits on the size of the letters on the screen, can be imported into MemoQ and these restrictions adhered to. This is a unique feature that has allowed Kocarek to have an advantage over other translation companies and secure more clients.

He also told us some funny stories about his MemoQ experiments. The favourite was that as the tool does not allow a user to select Thai as a source language, it often gets labelled as ‘Klingon’. This would be fine, except that project packages containing this information get sent to freelancers, leading to some very interesting conversations! His favourite feature of MemoQ is pseudotranslation, which refers to the process of testing the formatting of the document will stay the same in the target language by automatically generating the insertion of random characters into the target segment.

Christopher was also kind enough to give some very useful advice about CAT tools. The biggest thing was the fact that he mentioned how valuable a freelancer with knowledge of CAT tools can be to a company. Technology is very important in the industry, and translators who educate themselves about the benefits (and potential pitfalls) it presents will probably find themselves with more work. In terms of choosing the best tool for the job, he suggested that having a ‘big’ tool such as SDL Trados or MemoQ, plus knowledge of how to use smaller, perhaps online tools such as MateCat, would be ideal for a freelance translator. He also encouragingly stated that the CAT-tools training at Leeds is second-to-none, and that we should make the most of the facilities around us and get playing with software!  

Anyone interested in learning more about Kocarek GmbH is encouraged to have a look at their website https://kocarek-gmbh.com/.You can also follow them on Twitter at @Kocarek_GmbH and also check out Chris’s personal Twitter on @chrisd_schuster.

Thanks Christopher for a very interesting talk!

Written by CTS Students Anwen Roys (@anwen_roys), Emma Tamlyn (@EmmaTamlyn), Bethan Attwood(@francobethan), and Fred Zhuang