From my short work experience as resource manager, I could tell different translators hold different views towards Trados. Some beginning translators are interested in Trados for the amazing functions they heard of but they might not know what Trados really is and how it works. There are also some experienced translators considering if it is worth buying and practicing using Trados to win those customers who marked their jobs “Trados only”.
Admitted or not, Trados has been taken as the “industry standard” TM software. Some efforts are from the aggressive marketing campaign, but most is from Trados itself. It is a software making use of translation memory(TM) to enhance the efficiency of translation. It is definitely not equivalent to machine translation (MT), instead, it is rather a concept of computer-aided translation (CAT).
Trados is most likely regarded as a computer-aided translation software, which combines automatic translation and human translation. It works with a database called translation memory, storing the terminology that has been used, as well as the source and target pairs of text segments. Therefore, when the same or similar sentence appears in the document, Trados will automatically match the source and target text. Translators need not to retranslate the word that they have already completed. For the repetitions, Trados can show the translation that the translator has done so he/she can follow his/her previous translation segments; for similar test segments, translator can revise and edit based on the translated segments. Translation memory is updated from time to time when you continue your work. Besides, Trados helps to keep the consistency of text by storing a database of terminology. Translators need not to browse up and down the text or search again in the Internet for the technical terms. Hence, time is saved and consistency is maintained. When a team of translators is involved, the translation memories can be shared across the network to further increase the productivity.
Of course, Trados is not the only computer-aided translation software or translation memory software. There are many others, such as Wordfast, MemoQ. They are also very helpful in increasing translation efficiency because they applied translation memory in translation process, too. Besides, they are also much cheaper software than Trados and easier to use. But what are the advantages of Trados towards other TM software to make it the “industry standard”? Sorry that I don’t have the answer here because I am not a translator and never use any CAT tools. However, I am open to your answers.