Have you heard this term – translation memory (TM) – when shopping for translation services?
You may have an inkling of the concept behind it: a database that offers discounts based on the use of your previously-translated content.
But – did you know: that it’s an essential tool to keep messaging consistent; that it produces faster translation turnarounds overall; and that your TM discounts compound as your database grows?
Understanding the power of your translation memory is the first step to ensuring you soak up ALL the juicy benefits your TM has to offer!
Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of translation memory so you know exactly what to expect and what questions to ask when purchasing translation services.
Let’s start with the basics…
What is translation memory (TM)?
Translation memory is a database that stores translated content for your specific company.
When you request translation, the language services provider (LSP) compares your TM with the new content, searching for matching segments. These matching segments are ones you don’t have to pay full price for!
Basically, it’s a way to save time and money using your already-translated content.
And, the larger your TM database, the more discounts you’re likely to receive.
Faster translation turnaround
This may seem obvious, but the more matching segments that are found in your TM, the less the content translators need to translate, and the less time it takes to deliver the project.
Matching TM segments are pulled into translation software for expert language professionals to review during the translation step. They ensure that the matching segments fit the context of the new document perfectly before applying them to the final translation.
As your TM database grows, the more likely it is there will be matching segments in new translations, and the faster your project turnaround will be.
Translation memory cultivates consistency
Utilizing your TM database also keeps messaging consistent throughout all your material.
For example, content containing scientific or medical terms should be translated the very same way every time to maintain consistency.
If “using the stethoscope” was translated into German in your translation project from 5 months ago, and it comes up again in a new German translation project, it should be translated the same way.
Consistency is good for business, and good for your reputation.
Consumers and clients know what to expect when reading material from your company. Any inconsistent messaging is confusing and will turn-off clients and consumers from using your product or service; it could even appear to be dangerously unprofessional.
Owning your translation memory
Did you know that you own your TM, and can request it at any time from your current LSP?
Owning and having easy access to your TM is a powerful tool when it comes to negotiating project pricing.
When seeking a new or replacement LSP to handle your translation project, you can provide them with the existing TM for your company for the requested language(s) and speak with them about how they apply TM discounts.
Questions to ask about translation memory
Next time you talk to your translation vendor, or when seeking a new vendor, make sure to ask:
- What is your translation memory discount structure?
- Will my company have access to our TM database at any time?
- Tell me about your translation memory database and how it will benefit my organization.
If you already have access to your translation memory database, and are seeking a new vendor, ask:
- What discounts can I expect with my existing translation memory?
If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this blog, great job!
You now know more about what translation memory is, how it benefits your organization, and how to talk to language services providers about it.