Theoretically, all that would be needed in order to create a translation - besides a selection of good dictionaries - would be paper and a pen or, in our modern times, a PC with a common word processing program.
Nevertheless, there are quite a number of computer programs which make the translator's life considerably easier.
However, this does not mean programs which translate text in a fully automated fashion, because the quality of such translations often leave a great deal to be desired due to the complexity of human language, which a computer program can only grasp inadequately. Instead, the programs mentioned - whether they are called TRADOS, WordFast, or TRANSIT - support the translator in his own creative work by filling a database with everything that is translated and make suggestions if a sentence that has already been saved appears again in an identical or similar way. In addition, the applications are usually linked with a glossary program, which means that terms contained in the glossary are automatically displayed on screen if one of the terms appears in a sentence.
TRADOS translations are done from common office programs such as MS Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, but HTML Web sites can also be translated with the application.
The example shown here is the translation of an MS Word document from German to English using TRADOS. Once the application has been installed on the computer, a TRADOS menu bar will appear in Word, Excel and PowerPoint (indicated by a red arrow in the screenshot). The translator has accessed the so-called "Translator's Workbench" (bottom right) and opened the first sentence (the first "segment") with TRADOS. The text which is to be translated always appears in a blue field, while the translation is entered into the yellow field. Since this sentence is not yet included in the TRADOS database (called "Translation Memory"), the yellow field is entirely empty, and neither does the bottom field of the "Translator's Workbench" contain any information.
The rightmost box of the Workbench does have some information, however, namely the German term "Webseite" and its English translation. This word is also marked in red in the topmost Workbench field. This is due to the fact that the word can be found in the selected glossary and therefore is highlighted when it occurs.
Now the translation is entered into the yellow field, then the segment is saved in the database and the next segment is opened by clicking on the according icon or pressing the respective hotkey combination. If the next sentence again has not occurred before, the yellow field remains empty and the translator's own creativity comes into play once more.
Here you can see that the translator has already completed about half the text in the way described above. In the segments already dealt with, both the original and the translated sentences can be seen in typical TRADOS formatting tags. These tags and the original text do not have to be removed by hand later on - this task is performed by the "clean up" function integrated in TRADOS.
At this point in the text, a sentence has been repeated several times. When it appeared for the first time, the translation box was yellow and empty because this segment was not included in the database yet. But once the sentence crops up for the second time, the program recognizes that it is a 100 per cent match and therefore suggests the previous translation.
The fact that the translation field is green, not yellow, indicates that the sentence is completely identical to the one that came before. The segment is also displayed in the bottom box of the "Translator's Workbench", so that the translator can see how the sentence was translated before.
Identical matches can either be accessed individually and one after the other, or one can instruct the system to not display them at all but translate them the same way as before.
Here, a segment was opened which earlier appeared in similar, but not quite identical, form.
When the segment was opened, TRADOS recognized the similarities and suggested the previous translation. However, the translation box is yellow, not green, to indicate clearly that this is not a 100 per cent match. The "Translator's Workbench" displays he differences between the two segments in detail. All parts which are identical are not highlighted in any special way. Words which appear in different places in both segments are shown in turquoise, differences are highlighted in yellow, and additional words are marked in grey. This way, the translator will see the differences between the two segments at a glance and now can decide how to adapt the suggested translation to the new circumstances.