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The key advantages of translation memory

The advantages of working with a TM cannot be overstated.

Although a TM is useful for just about any type of non-literary translation, they tend to work best 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.

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!

One of the great beauties of a TM is that it extracts the text from the document, regardless of how that document is formatted, and reinserts the translation 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 processing files. As we discuss later, integrating desktop publishing and translation can be a hugely important aspect of the role of the modern translator, but, for a project in which this is not an issue, the TM neatly sidesteps what was a hassle-filled and time-consuming part of the translation process.

Crucially, if a TM system is used consistently on appropriate texts, it can save translators not inconsiderable time and effort. Imagine having to translate by hand 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. This saving is, of course, passed on to customers.

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