How do Translation Memories improve translation quality?
A Translation Memory (or TM) is a computer database storing words, sentences and paragraphs that have previously been translated by a translator. Translators can create different TMs for different fields or, as in my case, customise TMs even more by creating unique TMs for different clients, in order to accommodate their specific requirements.
Using TMs ensures consistent terminology and phraseology throughout the same text and in successive texts for the same client, making sure that the same word is always translated in the same way in future translations and across different media (for example, on your website, in your manual, in press releases, and so on). Human memory might forget how a particular sentence was translated 6 months ago, but this can never happen with a TM! And there’s more good news…
Is consistency the only benefit?
Consistency is certainly important in terms of quality, but what might affect you even more directly is that TMs allow you to save time and money.
Every time a new text is processed through a TM, this tells me immediately how many words I have already translated, how many repetitions there are within the text, and how much the remaining words match my previous work for that same client. All this information corresponds to significant discounts: having already translated a word, all I have to do is check whether it is appropriate in the current context, leaving me more time to concentrate on the new parts. This is why you pay less and get your translation sooner.
What tools do I use?
TMs are normally used in conjunction with CAT (Computer-Assisted Translation) tools. Be careful not to confuse machine translation with computer-assisted (or aided) translation. CAT is a support to the human, professional translator. Machine translation (Babel Fish, Google translator, etc) is no more than a mechanical replacement of words, often leading to ridiculous results.
If you want to see for yourself, click here to see what automatic translation can do to your text.
The most widespread CAT tool, and the one I currently use, is SDL Trados Studio. It includes a programme which guarantees that all the text is translated by opening it up segment by segment, thus preventing accidental omissions.
What about the text format?
What is even more interesting is that Tag Editor works with tags, i.e. it maintains exactly the same layout as the original. This means your Italian text will have exactly the same look as your English or French one, for example the same bold script in the same spot, the same font, the same paragraph division, the same page breaks, and so on.No need to worry anymore!