Frequently asked questions


What is Autshumato?


Autshumato is a first of its kind, open-source application that will greatly benefit multilingualism in South Africa.


Autshumato was initiated in 2007 and is funded by the South African Department of Arts and Culture (DAC). The aim of the project was to develop easy-to-use open-source technologies that would contribute towards the creation of documents in all the official South African languages in the public sector. Software that simplifies the translation process, software that promotes terminology standardisation and software that shortens translation time are some of the outputs.


These technologies are developed by the Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®) of the North-West University in South Africa and include an Integrated Translation Environment (ITE), a Terminology Management Solution (TMS) and Machine Translation Systems.



Who is CTexT?


The Centre for Text Technology (CTexT®) is an innovative research and development centre at the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). CTexT runs a variety of language technology projects (such as the development of spelling checkers for ten South African languages) and thrives on new challenges and new ideas.


Read more about us at



What is machine translation?


Machine translation happens when computerised systems attempt to automate the translation process from one human language into another. There is a difference between human-aided machine translation and machine-aided human translation:

  • Machine-aided human translation happens when human translators use translation tools or software to help them with their translation work.
  • Human-aided machine translation is when tools or software simulate the process of human translation with limited human intervention.


Machine translation versus translation memory

Translation memories are large databases of translated texts/units, which may include words, collocations, fixed expressions and even short sentences. These units are activated (recalled or made available) automatically during the translation process. If relevant, the translator then merely has to insert the unit into a text, in lieu of translating a whole piece of text from scratch.Translation memories are often used for the translation of technical documents, or documents with similarities to other documents. In the latter instances, translation memories help to avoid tedious repetition. Well-known systems working with translation memories include Trados®, DejaVu®, Wordfast® and OmegaT®.


Machine translation systems (a.k.a. ‘automatic translation software’) differ from translation memories in the sense that the translation process is fully automated, with no human intervention involved. An end-user usually pastes his/her text into the system, selects the language pairs, clicks on a button, and a full translation is provided forthwith. It is very important to note, however, that human intervention is required in text revision (‘post-editing’) of the machine translated results. Machine translation systems can be very inaccurate as context-sensitive translation through software is extremely difficult to accomplish. Technology can therefore never replace human translators, but rather contributes to an increase in the quantity and quality of translation work.



What can the Autshumato ITE do?


The Autshumato Integrated Translation Environment (ITE) was developed as a truly South African CAT tool. The focus of the software is to make freely available an environment that will make it easier for translators to work in the South African languages and to equip them with resources that will make their job easier and their efforts more effective.


The Autshumato ITE offers a translation environment through the popular OmegaT interface, and includes resources such as glossaries to see suggested translations for frequently used words and translation memories to show previous translations for phrases. The target documents that are generated with the Autshumato ITE are also formatted according to the source documents so any text in bold or italics, inserted pictures and bulleted or numbered lists will remain as such in the target document. All of these resources are combined in a user-friendly interface, with the possibility of adding additional resources such as spelling checkers and even machine translation tools.



What can the Autshumato ITE not do?


The Autshumato Integrated Environment (ITE) was designed as a resource to aid translators in their work. It is by no means a way of replacing the valuable skills of a translator, but rather a way to save time on the repetition of work.


  • The Autshumato ITE cannot and will never be able to deliver perfect translations on its own, and the translator should always be on the look-out for mistakes or corrections that need to be made to the suggested translations.
  • The Autshumato ITE is not a machine translation system that translates documents for you automatically; it can, however, connect to such services in order to aid in the translation process (please refer to the Autshumato ITE User’s Manual or contact the developers for additional help in this regard).
  • The Autshumato ITE cannot automatically share translation memories and glossaries between several users over a network or the Internet. It is up to users to share and distribute these files, if so desired.
  • As the Autshumato ITE is distributed free of charge, it does not contain spelling or grammar checkers. Please refer to the procedure on downloading and using external spelling checkers.


How do I get the Autshumato ITE?


Follow this link and click on the green download button. Click here if you need assistance.