Digital Technologies + Translator = Translation with Translation Memory
Author: Sotir Rangelov
Written translations stopped being a process of simple text writing on a sheet of paper a long time ago Thanks to digital technologies, this service is developing and even reaching levels that include the use of AI. However, here I will discuss the Translation with Translation Memory service, which has already proved its value over the last 30 years. In order for the readers to better understand it, first, I will introduce some terms. After this, I will point out some advantages and disadvantages of this service. And at the end, I will once again emphasize that, despite digital technologies, translation is still mainly a human activity.
Digital Technologies in Translation
The name of the service speaks for itself – Translation with Translation Memory. It is performed using software tools which utilise Translation Memory (TM). These tools are also called CAT tools – computer-assisted translation tools or computer-aided translation tools, and TM is the main tool. TM saves each translated sentence into a database. And when the same or a similar sentence occurs, the TM shows its translation to the translator. Thus the translation speed and translation consistency increase when working on identical texts.
I must make it clear right away that Translation with Translation Memory (TM) is not Machine Translation (MT). The CAT tool shows translations previously done and stored in the TM and does not try to translate the new text. This means that all suggestions shown in the Translation Memory have already been translated by a human. If there are no similar previous translations, the TM does not show anything and the translator has to translate the new text anew. This guarantees the quality of the used translation. MT is quite the opposite as it uses an algorithm and generates potential translations of the new text based on all previous translations.
To facilitate the translator’s work during the Translation with TM process, Terminology Bases are also used. These are not the regular dictionary books but a list of terms specially selected for the corresponding client, product or service.
The Terminology Base (TB) identifies the terms in the sentence, whether it is only one word or a whole phrase, and shows its stored translation to the translator. Thus, despite the number of translators working on a text simultaneously and the time frame between one translation and the other, it is guaranteed that certain terms will be translated consistently throughout not just the entire text but throughout all texts of that particular client. A specific Quality Assurance check ensures the term translation does not differ from the one in the Terminology base.
Quality Assurance (QA) is an integral part of the Translation with TM service. Numerous checks are made during the translation process and afterwards, for example, inconsistency in translation of identical sentences, same translation used for different source texts, numerical mismatch, double spaces, First Capital inconsistency, etc are all subject to the QA. Some checks would not even allow a project to be finalised until all issues are resolved. An example of this is the translation being longer then the set length.
Advantages of the Translation with TM
Precise quote in advance for the total costs and turn-around time (TAT) – the initial analysis of the text shows how much of it is new text, the number of repetitions, and the number of matches with previous translations. Using these statistics, it is possible to calculate the time required to produce a qualitative translation.
Consistency in translation of identical sentences – the Translation Memory helps the translator to use the same translation for identical texts. This is possible both in one file, as well as between several files for translation.
Consistency in terminology translation – the Terminology Base automatically marks the terms in the sentence and shows their translation which is to be used by the translator.
Quality Assurance – the Quality Assurance checks help the translator to avoid technical errors in translation. The list of check includes the usual spellchecking and the check for double spaces between words. Then, there are the time-consuming, if done manually, checks for untranslated sentences and for errors in numbers and dates. And finally, what is almost impossible without a specialized software – the check for inconsistent translation of identical sentences and the check for using one and the same translation for different sentences in one or between several files.
Several translators working on one project – the Translation Memory and the Terminology Base make it possible for several translators to work simultaneously on one project and use the same terms in the translation process.
Support of numerous file formats – it is no longer necessary to search for a specific software or teach a translator how to work with it when the text for translation is in a specific file format. The CAT tools extract the text for translation and show it to the translator in a familiar table-like style.
Decreasing costs in the long run – the sentences already translated are calculated on a minimal fee. The greater the volume of the identical text being translated, the more the matches in the Translation Memory.
Increasing the speed of the translation process of texts bigger in volume – the suggestions in the Translation Memory increase the translation speed because identical sentences are recognized and their previous translation is automatically used.
Disadvantages or some more advantages
The text for translation is extracted from its context which obliges the translator to strictly follow the reference material. On the other hand, this increases the final quality because when translating in a context environment, the translator often becomes too comfortable and, as a result,misses other important reference materials.
This service is not offered by every agency – this service requires certain technical equipment and information competence of the employees, which constitutes a significant initial investment and continuous operation costs. Offering this service is a sign that the client’s technical needs will be fulfilled with understanding.
The text has to be pre-processed – there are some requirements for each specific file format before it can be imported into the CAT tool. But the word statistics generated from the analysis will guarantee that the final total costs and the time-frame will be known beforehand. The pre-processing also guarantees that the target text will look exactly the same as the original.
Translator – the essential component of the Translation with TM
The translator still remains the main component of the Translation with TM service. Despite all the technologies.
Because the translator decides whether or not to use the translation which is offered by the TM.
Because the translator decides how to translate brand new text which has no fuzzy matches from the TM.
Because the translator decides how to use the term from the Terminology Base.
Because the translator decides whether or not to correct a potential error suggested by the Quality Assurance process.
Because the translator is human and the translated text is intended for humans.