Translation memory (TM) software is the engine that fuels machine or automated translation processes. With a good platform, you can complete the majority of your translation work accurately and quickly. While there’s a wide array of these programs on the market, not all of them are suitable for your business.
When broken down, TM incorporates two separate pieces of data: the original content and its translated counterpart. For example, a Spanish-focused translation memory will remember that when it sees the word “pen” in English, it should translate to “lápiz.” Of course, this explanation is simplistic when you consider how additional features make this translation memory software more sophisticated.
3 Key Components of Translation Memory Software
Translation memory software is available from just about everywhere that employs linguists. However, for it to be beneficial to your business, it must offer three key components.
Portability: Online translation services may create a TM related to your content for internal use when you start a project with them. It will be there to support their linguists as they work. However, they may not allow you to take it with you after the project.
That means every single time you work with a new translation agency, they start from scratch. You never benefit from the work you’ve had done in the past because the data isn’t there. If the TM isn’t portable, you’re either stuck working with the same translation agency forever or must resubmit all your corporate lexicons and branded language for every new project. On the other hand, a portable TM gives you the freedom to go anywhere and even develop your own in-house program.
Customizability: The creation of a TM occurs regardless of what agency you work with—even if you’re using free resources like Google. If you type in the word “pen,” it provides an initial suggestion—“lápiz”—as well as a list of other options, including “el corral,” and “el gallinero.” The first describes a writing instrument; the others loosely refer to animal coops.
Google’s internal TM has told it that when someone searches for the word “pen,” they’re most likely referring to the writing instrument. It’s stored and maintained this way to ensure consistent results. However, what if your business uses the word “pen” as a substitute for “chicken coop?” You can’t make Google’s free translation resource opt to this second choice. As a result, if you translate a large piece of content about chicken coops, it’s going to change that pen reference to “lápiz” every single time—resulting in a nonsensical passage that doesn’t work for your business.
Capacity: The final feature that your TM must have is the ability to learn and get better. This capacity for improvement is a significant time-saver that pays dividends down the road. Consider the above pen example. If your business didn’t have a TM that could learn, you’d have to correct that issue every time.
With intelligent translation memory software, all you need to do is note that all references to the word “pen” should update to “el corral,” not “lápiz.” From that point on, the TM will remember that preference and apply it.
These three features should be non-negotiable when you’re seeking out translation memory software. They make it possible to customize the TM for your specific business. However, if you really want to enhance your translation ROI, a few premium features bear consideration.
3 Additional Features That Enhance TM Results
Overall, translation memories are all very similar. They’re built on sets of translation units that compare words and make suggestions. Most even offer the portability, customizability, and capacity you need to make them fit your business. Some companies will even provide some additional features to boost your ROI, including:
- Automation: Some programs allow you to quickly view what a machine-translated document will look like before sending it off for human review. This quick evaluation can tell you how close you are to accuracy and help you save money in the long run.
- Compatibility: Many translation systems try to develop things that block people from migrating away from their platforms. The TM may be portable, but it’s just not usable on another site. Alternately, some providers work hard to build system agnosticism into their program. They create standardized parsing, tagging, segmentation, and commenting within the code that can carry over anywhere.
- Context: Establishing keys within the coding can provide valuable context. Consider the word “home” when used in an app or on a website. It could refer to the home screen or the user’s residence—the translation will change depending on the context. Keys within the coding tell the linguists precisely what “home” is referring to so they can make better choices.
Translation memory software is invaluable on any international campaign. It allows you to quickly and accurately update your content for new readers. Use a program with portability, capacity, and customizability to fit it to your business. Then, you can boost those results with automation, compatibility, and context.