Should My Company Maintain Translation Memories?

Translation Memory tools are incredibly valuable for translators and translation companies alike. This value can also be utilized by companies that are regularly in need of translation. If your company requires translation services on a consistent basis, you should consider maintaining your own translation memories.

What is a Translation Memory?

Translation Memories (TM) are computer files that are recognized by a variety of translation software programs. Simply put, it contains translations from previously translated documents for a given language. If a translator has worked with “Company A” for some time, and has translated 30 English to Spanish documents for this company, this translator will have a single TM that contains the data from all of these English and Spanish files. If this translator translates a new file for Company A, and it contains any text that appeared in the previous translations, the TM will automatically complete this portion of the translation. 

Why do we use Translation Memories?

There are several benefits to utilizing TM's. Utilizing TM's will cut down on the time it takes for a translation to be completed. Linguists who are armed with a TM will not only have portions of text automatically translated, but those portions that are near matches, or “fuzzy” matches, will also be partially translated. This allows the linguist to focus only on those portions of text with no previous equivalent. This cuts down on the cost as well, as many linguists charge less or not at all for 100% matches. 

Utilizing a TM will also increase consistency across your translated documents. Since repeated terms and phrases are automatically implemented, your translated document will be uniform in its use of terminology. This is especially important in industries with unique vocabulary.

Why should my company maintain Translation Memories?

Since the linguist is the one actually performing the work with the TM, you may wonder why it is necessary for your company to maintain them. I assert that it is vital to maintain and update your own TM's because you will rarely use the same linguists 100% of the time for a given language. Whether you hire your own linguists directly or you outsource to a translation company, you can't guarantee that the same individual will always be working on your document. If you have a large assignment, there might be multiple linguists working on a document simultaneously. If you keep and regularly update your own TM's, this will have less of an impact on the final product. Terminology will remain consistent even if multiple linguists are utilized. Furthermore, a consistently updated TM becomes more valuable over time. The more text contained within a TM, the more time and money that can potentially be saved.

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