Why do we use CAT tools and translation memories?

The translation market is constantly evolving and subject to many technological innovations. One of the most prominent was the emergence of new support tools : CAT software.

Destined for translators and agencies, they have completely changed the way we translate and manage a translation project. A revolution which is largely the result of translation memories.

What’s a CAT tool? What’s a translation memory? Thanks to the following article, you will learn more about CAT tools and the importance of using translation memories.


What’s a CAT tool?

A CAT tool (Computer Aided Translation tool) is a computer program destined to help translators in the management of their projects. They are not automatic translation tools.

A CAT tool will split the text into manageable units known as “segments”. These segments are stored in databases (called translation memories) and can be supplied and re-used at any time.

Today, more and more clients and agencies are imposing the use of CAT tools for their translations.

There are many different applications on the market, all adapted to specific needs. They should therefore be tested in order to find the software most suited to your way of working.

The most currently used software are SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast, Memsource, OmegaT, …


What’s a translation memory?

The translation memory is a database containing text segments (paragraphs, phrases, expressions, clauses …) as well as their equivalent in another language. When using translation memories, existing segments don’t need to be translated a second time, as they are stored for future use.

The databases record all translations and so refine themselves further and further as the translator progresses. The more the translation memory is powered, the more translation will be rapid and inexpensive.


How do you reuse the segments?

During a new translation, the CAT tool will segment the source document and provide a previous translation for re-use if a suitable match has been found in the database. This will always have to be manually validated. If there is no match or if the translator does not validate the suggestion, the program allows the translator to enter a translation for the new segment.

Thus, the translator remains in control of all the translation of the document and uses their previous work to be more efficient.


Why use translation memories?

CAT software has real advantages, especially for large volume translation :

  • Translate more documents in less time: with well-powered and updated translation memories, it’s possible to translate more words in reduced time. Previous translations are re-used, saving a lot of time and effort for the translator.
  • Ensure the quality of the translation: pre-translations allow to dedicate more time to the revision of the document.
  • To strengthen the consistency of translations: by standardizing the translations of the same subject (example : instructions, data sheets, …), we ensure that terminology and writing style are respected and identical from one translation to another. This also allows to maintain homogeneity when a document is translated by several different translators.
  • Savings for customers: some translators apply a lower tariff depending on the match rate of the client’s translation memories and the document that needs translating. However, when using your own translation memories, you are free to invoice the client for the segments, without having to do the translation a second time.


Who are the owners of these translation memories?

In theory, the translation memories belong to the translator as well as to the customer. Normally, translators will hand over the translation memories at the same time as the final translation. However, it may happen that translation agencies charge their clients for translation memories or even refuse to forward them.

It also happens that memories are badly maintained or lost in various storage locations. Hence the utility to centralize them on a secured cloud for easy access.



CAT software remain work tools for translation support which should not be confused with online automatic translation. To fully benefit from them a human translator is still indispensable:

  • Translation memories are exclusively powered from already translated contents.
  • A final quality review by a professional translator will always be necessary,
  • Unknown segments of the software will not be able to benefit from the memories and must be translated manually.

Well utilized, CAT software are high performing tools that allow high productivity, efficiency and ensure a better final quality. This is a win-win situation for clients and translators.


Translation memories are at the core of the Eazylang platform. Thanks to these databases, the platform identifies and matches professional translators from their already translated contents. We thus relate customers having specific needs with translators who effectively have the mastery of required terminology. This is why, we encourage translators to download their translation memories in their personal work space on Eazylang’s secure and confidential platform.

2 Responses to “Why do we use CAT tools and translation memories?

  • I am a technical translator with over 30 years experience. I DO NOT use translation tools. I DO NOT think CAT tools do something more than Google Translator. I am completely against using them, as by what I have lived, each job is a job, and translation tools, deal with jobs in a low level. Example, I work with translations from Brazilian Portuguese to English and the other way round. Not every word from one language has the same translation (meaning, context) to the other. In my humble opinion, translation tools like trados, wordfast and the like pull the rule to the bottom. So, I do my translation by hearth, searching, checking meanings.

  • Project Manager
    2 years ago

    I have been working as Project manager in the translation industry for some time now. I would say CAT tools make the job all – client, Project Manager and linguist easier and more consistent. With the help of CAT tools we keep “libraries” for clients and if they only need to change the last paragraph of their newsletter this month there is no need for us to translate it from scratch. CAT tools help with verification of translation in case there is punctuation missing (we are all human beings and tend to miss stuff now and then). Of course, there are words with different meanings, but this is

    Of course, there are words with different meanings, but this is why you have Context matches, Fuzzy matches (partially translated text), new words, etc.
    I believe CAT tools are the future of the industry (keeping formation and quality of the translate document) and are a great solution.

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