The Advantages and Disadvantages of Free MT Software in CAT Tools

For professional translators, the integration of free MT software with computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools has transformed many aspects of the translation process. This integration facilitates a faster workflow, pre-translation, and assists in managing extensive translation projects. However, while the use of free machine translation within CAT tools offers numerous benefits, it also introduces specific challenges that need careful consideration.

Understanding the role of MT software in CAT tools

CAT tools are essential for professional translators, offering features like translation memories, glossaries, and various automation capabilities that enhance productivity and consistency. Integrating free MT software such as Google Translate or DeepL provides a preliminary translation layer that can be refined and contextualized by a human translator. This integration considerably speeds up the translation process, especially during the initial phases of text input.

Advantages of integrating free MT software into CAT tools

Enhanced productivity

The primary benefit of integrating free MT software into CAT tools is the significant boost in productivity it offers. Translators can handle larger volumes of content within shorter delivery terms by utilizing machine-generated drafts that they meticulously refine.


For freelance translators and small translation agencies, the cost-saving aspect of free MT software is particularly attractive. By reducing the initial time and effort spent on translating texts, these tools allow professionals to optimize their budgets and resources.

Streamlining pre-translation processes

Free MT software integration helps in creating a first-pass translation of entire texts, known as pre-translation. This process allows translators to work more efficiently by focusing on editing and refining the machine-generated output rather than translating from scratch. Think in terms of not having to type all the text from scratch.

Disadvantages of integrating free MT software into CAT tools

Variable quality and reliability of free MT software

While MT tools have improved significantly, the translation quality can still be inconsistent, particularly with idiomatic expressions, specialized jargon, or languages with poor resources. If relying on raw machine translation outputs only (without using translation memory or glossaries), translators will often spend considerable time correcting errors in the MT outputs to ensure that the translation meets professional standards.

Security and confidentiality issues

Using especially free external MT software for translations involving sensitive or proprietary information poses potential risks, as the data could be stored or misused. For professional translators, safeguarding client confidentiality is crucial, and relying on these tools without credible security measures may compromise this trust.

Over-reliance and skill degradation

There’s a risk that reliance on automated translations could lead to skill degradation of professional human translators over time. Translators might find themselves becoming less engaged in the nuanced aspects of language and translation skills could wane, particularly in the creative and stylistic elements of the craft. Depending on the subject matter, many engines additionally only provide word-for-word translation, which in some languages may not be desirable.

Compatibility and integration challenges

While many CAT tools support integration with MT software, there can be technical challenges or limitations in how seamlessly these tools work together. Issues such as formatting retention, tagging, and maintaining the integrity of the translation memory can arise, requiring additional adjustments by the translator. Free MT software can also have internal limits when it comes to translated volumes, and thus might not be sufficient for busy freelance professional translators.

Doc3’s integration with DeepL and other MT engines

An example of effective integration of MT software in a CAT tool is the support of the neural machine translation engines offered by Google, Bing, and DeepL in the Doc3 CAT tool. You can select to use machine translation for text segments that were not pre-translated against the translation memory. Simply connect to these engines if you have a private MT engine account, in which case you need to enter your API key in your account settings in Doc3.

Doc3 supports a free DeepL integration that especially offers translators high-quality machine translation capacity within their CAT tool. This feature enables professionals to leverage DeepL’s superior handling of contextual nuances compared to other MT tools, directly within the Doc3 environment.

Balancing technology and human expertise in translation

Integrating MT software into CAT tools offers a blend of benefits and challenges for professional translators. While these integrations enhance productivity, reduce costs, and expand language coverage, they also bring concerns about quality, security, and professional skill maintenance. By using integrated solutions such as DeepL within the Doc3 CAT tool, translators can maximize their efficiency while maintaining the high standards required in professional translation settings.

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