What is Translation Memory or TM and how it Affects Human Translation?

June 19th, 2009

If there is ever a time that human translation has been so in demand, it is none other than these days. With the revolution of the Internet, doing business on a global perspective has become so popular. That's why more and more companies seek the aid of professional translation that is fast and effective to help bridge the language barrier and reach out to the foreign market. There is no denying that human translation is preferred than machine translation due to its promise for quality and accuracy. With the bulk of jobs coming in, professional translation finds some help that's being rooted from the tools now readily available. And that's definitely good news not just for translators but to their clients as well. For translators, this means an easier way of carrying through their tasks. For their clients, this guarantees an even higher standard for quality of the translation service they can get. Among the many tools available to aid a translation service is the Translation Memory or TM. Basically, TM is a database, which stores the segments of those previously translated projects. It piles up human translation of foreign words, phrases, and even sentences to be ready in case the translator comes across with them again. To put it simply, the Translation Memory software splits the text that needs to be translated, looks for any matches that are already within the database, and supplies a candidate or a possible translation. It is up to the translator if he accepts the translation candidate or supplies another meaning to the text. In case of the latter, the fresh translation would be added back to the database for future reference. But Translation Memory has its own benefits and drawbacks, advantages and disadvantages to human translation. For the benefits part, Translation Memory ensures quality, consistency, reduced translation time, and reduced cost. A professional translation that is aided by a Translation Memory software makes it easier to achieve the standard level of quality required that make satisfied clients. It also helps ensure that no word or phrase in the document is left out, thus making human translation more accurate. Translation Memory also promises consistency. The same word is given the same meaning, for example, as it is already stored in the database. Under such a case, Translation Memory helps reduce the time needed to finish a project and in the end, the translator is able to save on costs. However, human translation only saves on time and costs if the very same project is given to them subsequently, which is very unlikely. But that's just about one of the disadvantages of a Translation Memory software. There also lies the fact that huge effort, adjustments, and other special tools are required to fully enjoy its benefits in human translation. Most Translation Memory software also requires enormous manpower to keep it as usable. Maintenance is required if you want your Translation Memory software to keep working as it should be. Translation Memory makes for a nice little help in carrying over professional translation. However, users of it must be particular of what is required of them to make it truly useful to enjoy its benefits of quality and time and cost savings.