Translating science fiction in a CAT tool: machine translation and segmentation settings


  • Lucas Nunes Vieira University of Bristol
  • Natalie Zelenka University of Bristol
  • Roy Youdale University of Bristol
  • Xiaochun Zhang University of Bristol
  • Michael Carl Kent State University


Literary translation, post-editing, machine translation, neural machine translation, computer-assisted translation, CAT tools, science fiction, Chinese translation


There is increasing interest in machine assistance for literary translation, but research on how computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools and machine translation (MT) combine in the translation of literature is still incipient, especially for non-European languages. This article presents two exploratory studies where English-to-Chinese translators used neural MT to translate science fiction short stories in Trados Studio. One of the studies compares post-editing with a ‘no MT’ condition. The other examines two ways of presenting the texts on screen for post-editing, namely by segmenting them into paragraphs or into sentences. We collected the data with the Qualititivity plugin for Trados Studio and describe a method for analysing data collected with this plugin through the translation process research database of the Center for Research in Translation and Translation Technology (CRITT). While post-editing required less technical effort, we did not find MT to be appreciably timesaving. Paragraph segmentation was associated with less post-editing effort on average, though with high translator variability. We discuss the results in the light of broader concepts, such as status-quo bias, and call for more research on the different ways in which MT may assist literary translation, including its use for comparison purposes or, as mentioned by a participant, for ‘inspiration’.