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How to get the most value out of translation memory

In the digital age, the demand for quality translations is at an all-time high. With translation budgets under pressure to meet burgeoning demand, there is a strong case for building an up-to-date translation memory (TM).

Whether you’re producing technical manuals, legal documentation or marketing content, a decent TM is a game-changer. This article looks at how to enjoy the enviable double bubble of lower costs and higher quality when it comes to multilingual content.

Did you know? Any previous translations a Language Service Provider (LSP) has produced for you using a Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) tool will have generated translation memories. These remain your intellectual property and you should request them when moving into a project with a new provider.

What is a translation memory?

Well, it isn’t machine translation. If you’re translating sensitive material or marketing collateral, you’re not about to risk making the kind of cringe-worthy mistakes that can happen with inappropriately applied automation.

Simply put, a translation memory is a database that contains content you've translated before. Making use of it can streamline future projects by eliminating the need to re-translate phrases that have already been previously approved.

During a translation a CAT tool will search its segments (called translation units or TUs) and offer them up for reuse if the words and context match.

When a 100% or ‘exact’ match is located, the segment can be inserted into the translation without any changes. Close but not perfect matches are called ‘fuzzy matches’ and in these cases the human translator will decide whether to alter and use or discard them.

Your TM builds in parallel to your translations. Notwithstanding maintenance and spring cleans, it’s a relatively straightforward asset to create and nurture.

What are the benefits of translation memory?

There are three big wins when it comes to using a TM.

Enhance consistency

If you want to maintain a standardised tone of voice or retain key wording across your multilingual content, a TM is essential. It will ensure consistency regardless of whether it’s handling a single file or a large-scale project involving multiple linguists.

This also means that when a translator or transcreator constructs a key sentence they will only need to request approval from a reviewer or the end client once. Whenever or wherever that phrase appears again, the approved version can be used without ambiguity or conflict.

Legal content is an often formulaic yet highly specialised area of translation. In, for instance, an Agreement of Sale, an initial translator will accurately render points of law that are likely to appear in related documents. A good translation memory will recognise these approved phrases so they can be inserted with minimal effort across all suitable instances.

A TM also functions well in more creative contexts like marketing translation or transcreation. If your localised tagline appears multiple times on your website, unsolicited variations can undermine your messaging and dilute the impact of a campaign. A translation memory ensures it is always the right version that appears – until you decide differently.

Save time

By optimising the translation process and bringing countless benefits to consistency and quality control, a translation memory can drive huge time savings that can quicken your time-to-market and vastly enhance your capacity to scale. If a translator doesn’t need to translate the same sentence more than once, they can move through a document more quickly and stay fresh and focused on untranslated segments. This means text can be turned around faster — perfect for time-sensitive campaigns.

With leveraging translation memory in large projects, multiple translators can also work together to further speed things up.

Did you know? A professional translator will never insert a TU automatically. Even with a 100% match, they will check the translation and context for suitability.

Reduce cost

When you provide a translation memory to your LSP it will run a report against your source text to check for exact matches, fuzzy matches and what needs to be translated from scratch.

As you build your TM over time, your business can benefit from a sliding price model as the untranslated content — and therefore project scope — can be reduced. If you are operating in a specialist sector this can have an almost immediate positive impact on your translation costs.

As your translation memory builds steadily, your ability to secure more good matches and your capacity to benefit from cost-saving will increase.

Start building your translation memory today

A translation memory is a worthwhile, relatively straightforward investment offering strong returns in the form of lowered costs, higher quality and quicker time-to-market. At Travod we support the development of your TM by updating it after every job. Our client managers will also share a Trados analysis with you before placing an order.

Ready to find out more? Get in touch today to find out more about translation memories and the good things they can do for your pricing model.


About Travod

Travod is a global provider of expert language services and agile technology solutions for businesses worldwide. Providing culturally localised content, Travod offers a full range of translation services in 100+ languages. Our international team of 130 in-house employees and over 5,000 specialist linguists work together to provide a bespoke service for more than 6,000 organisations and brands. Travod is fully ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 certified, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to the highest standards of quality in the translation industry. Travod is part of Mondia Technologies Group.

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