The advantages of working with a Translation Memory cannot be overstated.
Translation Memories (TMs) are essentially databases which take advantage of previous translations. New texts are analysed by the software to check if any segments have been translated before, in which case the previous translation is suggested and the translator can choose whether to use it or not.
Although a Translation Memory is useful for just about any type of non-literary translation, they offer significant advantages with texts which are to some degree repetitive, such as manuals or legal documents. TMs enable a translator to be consistent in translating the same phrase the same way each time it occurs; this is extremely important in the case of technical documents, for example.
Translation Memories guarantee consistency throughout and between projects, facilitate parallel releases in multiple languages, permit linguists to focus on semantics and style, and reduce overall costs.
Example of TM interface
- SOURCE LANGUAGE
- TARGET LANGUAGE
- SEGMENTATION (SORTED AND FILTERED)
- PERCENTAGE MATCH WITH
- SUGGESTIONS FROM
- TRANSLATION MEMORY ENTRIES
- FINISHED TRANSLATION EXPORTS
TO YOUR PREFERRED FORMAT
- TM AND GLOSSARY EXPORTED
AND SAVED FOR FUTURE USE
Updates and repeated text
It also applies in the case of a Language Service Provider (LSP) which works regularly with the same clients. A TM tailored to that client will ensure that any translator who works on a document for them will use the same terminology, even if there are two or more equally valid possible alternatives. TMs are highly customizable, and the more they ‘learn’ about a particular client’s preferences, the more effective they are – in other words, the bigger they get, the better!
Combining with DTP (layout)
One of the great advantages of a TM is that it extracts the text from the document, regardless of how that document is formatted, and reinserts the translation back into the original layout automatically. This means that translators can now forget about, what was some years ago the great bane of a translator’s life, namely fiddling around with text boxes or poorly-formatted word files. As we have discussed previously, integrating desktop publishing and translation can offer substantial benefits and savings. For a project in which this is an issue, the TM neatly sidesteps what was a hassle-filled and time-consuming part of the translation process.
Delivery and deployment
Crucially, if a TM system is used consistently on appropriate texts, it can save translators considerable time and effort. Imagine having to translate the segment ‘the red house’ in a 10,000 word document about new house-painting legislation! A TM reduces hugely the time this would otherwise take. And this saving is, of course, passed on to customers.
The use of CAT (computer assisted translation) tools should not be confused with “machine translation (MT)” or “automated translation”. All translations should be performed by human translators and subsequently reviewed. Good translation agencies will be aware of the value this technology presents to customers.