Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Benefits of Translation Memory and its Misconceptions

 Let us begin with the basic question - What is Translation Memory? Translation Memory is a software application that serves as a linguistic database. The core concept of Translation Memory, or simply known as TM, is to store all of your translated words and phrases in a database that can be accessed for future projects. When starting a new project, the software recognizes these terms and phrases so you can maintain consistency throughout your documents.

The main benefits of using a TM are:

Consistency: The use of a TM provides the translator with the original translation of a unique word or phrase to help prevent them from using a different translation in the future. This is especially helpful for phrases that do not have a parallel translation, or those terms that are culturally unique to a language. The TM can also be transferred from one translator to the other, which ensures consistency among colleagues. This improved consistency is extremely beneficial for highly technical documents, repeat clients, and organizations whose brand image is sustained by consistency.

Faster turnaround: Another major benefit to utilizing a TM is a shortened project turnaround time. Translating highly technical words can be a cumbersome task, but thanks to the utilization of a TM, it only needs to be a challenge once. The art of translation is more than translating text. It is also about maintaining context as the TM manager needs to be diligent in “recycling” terms that are appropriate.

Cost-saving: Translation Memory can serve as a cost-saving tool on high-volume projects. The TM software can recognize terms that are exact matches or close matches throughout a given document. Cost savings can be particularly substantial for a highly technical manual, the size of a book, with many repeated words. Please note, due to factors such as file processing, pre-job analysis, advanced training and software investment, the cost-saving feature of TM technology diminishes for small projects.

Multilingual Versatility: Translation Memory serves as a linguistic support mechanism for every language in the World. Regardless of the language being translated, the TM can serve as a database for any translated text. This is a tool that is not restricted by the commonality of a language, because all of its contents are derived from human translations.

Common Misconceptions about Translation Memory:

• While assisted by a computer, Translation Memory is generated by a computer. Machine Translations, like Google Translate, are computer automated translations. Translation Memory is NOT synonymous with Machine Translation. Machine Translations are computer generated translations that are quick but are often inaccurate and of poor quality. On the other hand, Translation Memory stems from human translators and is screened by a TM Manager. Only the most fitting and appropriate translations are used.

• “Exact Matches” for TM are not free and they still do take some time to review. There are still costs incurred in this process, including the minimum charge (if it is a small project), the time to review the generated translation, the efforts of the manager to determine if the “recycled” translation is applicable and the actual cost of the technology.

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