If you are involved in managing documents, content and text into and out of lots of different languages, then your world involves translation and localisation. Within digital and online marketing especially, the need to market to people in their own language has never been so important. As a result the translation industry is always looking for ways to improve quality, consistency and price.

That’s where translation memory comes to the rescue.

You’ve probably carried out translations in the past so translation memory is all about putting them to good use.  All those previous translations are accumulated within the software in source and target language pairs called translation units. These are then reused which means that the same sentence never has to be translated twice.

Get it? Basically, the software memorises the translations and if they ever need to deal with the same words, text, paragraphs, etc again then they already have the translations.

As time goes by and your translation memory grows the speed at which your translations can be carried out get faster and faster. This accelerates the delivery of translation projects and that helps to increase revenue because you can take on more and more jobs with customer satisfaction guaranteed.

Starting to see how this could benefit your business and translation workflow?

One of the leading pieces of translation memory software is SDL Trados Studio (there are loads of others – go online and do some research if you want to purchase one) and earlier this year it was announced that the Husqvarus Group, the world’s largest producer of outdoor power products will be using this software. Using the software allows the company to communicate with its global customers in over 35 languages. Important documents such as Operator’s Manuals and Service Bulletins can be translated much quicker than before. In essence, they reap all the benefits mentioned above.

So how does it work?

Well it opens the source file and applies the translation memory so any identical matches or “fuzzy matches” (those that are similar but not identical) within the text are extracted straightaway and placed within the target file.

The translation memory manager works its way through the source file and the suggested matches can either be accepted or overridden with new alternatives. If a translation unit is manually updated, then it is stored within the translation memory for future use as well as for repetition in the current text. In a similar way, all segments in the target file without a “match” are translated manually and automatically added to the translation memory. Translation memories are most effective when localizing documents that contain a high level of repetition.

If your company is using a Content Management System (CMS) to manage their information, this creates and edits individual blocks of text rather than entire documents.  These are then published in a variety of different formats. Using  translation memory will make this process quicker and is more consistent. This is far more efficient than machine translation which can only be used for a limited number of supported languages.

Translation memories work best on texts which are highly repetitive, such as technical manuals. They are also helpful for translating incremental changes in a previously translated document, corresponding, for example, to minor changes in a new version of a user manual. Traditionally, translation memories have not been considered appropriate for literary or creative texts, for the simple reason that there is so little repetition in the language used.

So don’t toil unnecessarily, simply use translation memory. Your efficiency levels will rise, it’ll take far less time to get the end result, you’ll be able to take on more work and you’ll save money. Plenty good reasons I would say to start looking at how translation memory could work in your business.