Most businesses are aware of how important it is to have consistency in any of their documents or manuals. Consistency is an important issue to consider when it comes to translation. Translation service providers in Adelaide and in other main cities across Australia use a number of ways in which consistency of vocabulary usage is retained. Probably the most important way in which consistency is achieved is through the use of translation memory or TM for short.
Translation memory has nothing to do with online translation software which can provide rough and ready translations cheaply or even for free. Most of these online automated translators do not provide sufficiently accurate translations for anything other than for personal or amateur use.
What translation memory can do is to store specific words, terms and phrases which are in common use in a document translation service. Every time these words and phrases are used again, the same translation is performed automatically, thereby achieving more consistent translation. Because translation memory is an automated, yet precise system, it also can be used quite cheaply without requiring a human translator to perform the translation manually. That helps to combine consistency with lower costs to the client.
When a translator is faced with a translation project, their translation memory software scans the document for matching words and phrases. Any such text may be viewed as a “perfect match,” which means that these words can be translated without having to be checked by the translator. Typically, translators charge by the word, but because the words retained in storage by TM do not have to be translated by the human translator they attract a much lower cost pr word – 20 – 30% of the full cost.
More commonly, specific words and phrases may be viewed as a “fuzzy match”. This means that the similarity is not exact, yet the words are not completely different. Fuzzy matches do require the translator to intervene and choose the best interpretation. These fuzzy matches are again priced at a reduced cost – say 50 – 60% of the full cost per word.
When the translation memory does not recognise the words to be translated, then a “no match” will be returned and these words will have to be translated by the human translator, thereby attracting the full cost per word.
Translation memories are not a one off tool. A client benefits when they have chosen a document translation service provider that they can establish an ongoing and long term relationship with. The words and phrases then retained in the translation memory will gradually build up as documents are provided to the translator which means that as time goes on, the cost to the client should gradually drop while at the same time consistency in vocabulary is not compromised – a win-win result!