The Wordfast Alternative

By Carolina Arrigoni-Shea

How many times have you embarked on time-consuming terminology research to translate a project for client XYZ, only to find three months later that your “nature-fueled memory chip,” bombarded by a wide range of topics and assignments, is not able to retrieve the required vocabulary when client XYZ gives you project No. 2? I recently participated in a Wordfast Workshop for Beginners offered by NCTA and I would like to share some thoughts with colleagues who may have not yet tried their hand at computer-aided translation (CAT).

Wordfast is a translation memory program compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux platforms that allows you to work more efficiently and save quite a bit of time. The beauty of this tool is that it is truly user-friendly, and acquiring it will not cause severe damage to your bank account.

After the four-hour hands-on workshop, I went back home and was able to immediately put basic Wordfast functions to use on the translation of a technical manual. As you work, Wordfast’s translation memory tracks your translation choices and creates your own personal glossary. When translation segments begin to repeat themselves, the software will automatically provide you with the target language options you have previously fed into the memory. !Fantástico!

My one piece of advice is to sign up for an introductory workshop. Many of us have probably considered enhancing our professional arsenal by utilizing translation software. However, it is hard to find the time to try out the products on the market – let alone learn how to use them! A workshop gives you the opportunity to do just that, benefiting from interaction with experienced instructors and greatly reducing your learning curve. (An added bonus of attending the Wordfast workshop was that NCTA kindly negotiated a special discounted licensing rate for participants.)

Increased speed and consistency of terminology are two of the more important benefits of CAT tools. Wordfast, additionally, supports MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and several of the most common file formats we come across in our business. This flexibility, plus its ease of use, makes Wordfast a particularly attractive option for those of us who are new to the world of computer-aided translation.

Workshop tips

  • Bring your own gear, whether it is yours, borrowed, or rented.
  • If you are a hopeless desktop romantic, make sure you “test drive” the laptop you will use. The smaller-size keyboard and touchpad/trackball mouse can be challenging at first.
  • Download all required materials beforehand and confirm they are “operational.”
  • Read, or at least browse, workshop materials in advance to familiarize yourself with the terminology and the topic.
  • Arrive early and have fun!

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