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Translation Memories - Boon or Bane?





Increasing challenges in the Translation Arena

With the concepts of globalization as well as localization sky-rocketing the demand for professional translation services, the work profile and job description of a professional translator is becoming increasingly specialized and domain-specific. For instance, if you consider Legal Translation, which is just one out of the several domains of translation, the former itself has so many branches such as Civil Law, Criminal Law, Corporate Law, Property and Tax Law etc and a wide variety of legal documents such as court documents, summons, complaints, judicial proceedings, licenses, patents, certificates, contracts, leases, agreements etc, each of which entail a specific framework of translation and involves use of domain-specific terms and terminologies. Moreover, new terms keep getting evolved and old terms keep becoming redundant over time; hence a translator must keep himself abreast of all these aspects for his or her field of expertise. In short, the erstwhile conventional task of a translator is now transformed into a more market-oriented, specialized and professional job, that necessitates highly structured work patterns to successfully execute projects within the stipulated deadlines.


Translation Memory comes to the rescue!

In this scenario, a Translation Memory is an important database that comes to the aid of the translator. The database contains segments of previously translated words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs. The role of a Translation Memory comes into play when a translator has been assigned a project wherein the words, phrases or sentences are on similar lines with previously translated versions. In case any match is found, the Translation Memory Manager (the software program that uses the Translation Memory Database) immediately notifies the user and displays the relevant translated text in order of its appropriateness. This process not only enables the translator to save on time, money and effort, it also ensures consistency of translation. It often happens that a large translation project is divided into parts by the project manager and assigned to individual translators for a fast turnover. Using a common Translation Memory will enable the uniformity of the project even though different translators are working on it. Most Translation Memory Managers are programmed not to accept incomplete translations, hence they also serve the purpose of ensuring that translation is not left incomplete under any circumstances. Effective use of Translation Memories enables professional translation service providers to provide cost-efficient, time-bound, accurate and uniform translation services, for maximum satisfaction of clients.

A word of caution!

However one must always keep in mind that a machine is after all a machine, and it can serve our purpose best only when used correctly for the relevant purpose. For instance, if a multinational uses a Translation Memory with the database of localization projects in the Middle East in order to execute a similar localization project in the USA, the translation will cease to be culturally and socially appropriate, thereby defeating the entire purpose. Hence the objective and context of the translation must be kept in mind at all times. A final word of caution regarding Translation Memory is that it is meant only for storage and revival; it does not provide any means of checking if the translated text is correct or not. So if you are not careful, chances are that a translation error once made not only remains unchecked, but keeps getting repeated over and over again!


Sitara Sankar is a Content Marketing Specialist at TIIT Solutions a subsidiary of TridIndia IT Translation Services Pvt. Ltd- One of the top Translation Agencies in India. She is passionate about writing unique, innovative and engaging content on a diverse range of topics. You can catch up with her on Twitter @sitara_sankar.

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