What To Do When You’ve Squeezed All You Can From Your Translation Memories

If you’re a new user of translation memory technology, the cost and time savings of not translating the same content over and over again can be pretty impressive. But what happens when, as a mature user, your company is seeing diminishing returns? When, at the same time, your translation memories are starting to show their age?

Today companies which have already squeezed most of the benefits from translation memory (or TM) technology are turning to machine translation (or MT) to deliver even more significant time and cost savings.

But let’s start at the beginning. If you are unfamiliar with translation memory, here’s how it works.  Most content includes phrases you will repeat multiple times.  With translation memory, once they are translated the first time, those phrases are saved in a memory so they will be available the next time that same text comes up again.

Translation memory cuts your translation costs because you end up translating phrases you use a lot just once, versus multiple times.

It turns out that translation memory is a great strategy to reduce translation costs.   However, unless you have just started working with translation memory, the bad news is that you have likely realized most of the savings already.

This ceiling effect happens because translation memory works best when the domain of content is well established, say with an existing product.  But companies get the majority of their revenue and profits from new products. Also, the way you wrote about your products and services five years ago is probably not the way you write about them today: things change, and your translation memories may well be out of date.

And it is here that machine translation shines. New products require new terminology, terminology that has never been translated before and therefore has yet to find a place in your company’s translation memory. MT delivers on its promise when there is less content to recycle and more new content to translate.

As time goes on, you can expect TMs to provide only incremental cost savings – while at the same time suffering incremental quality degradations. That’s because the dirty little secret about TMs is that they are often what we call “dirty”. That is, no longer high quality because the old translations are not as relevant.

On the other hand, the quality of machine translation improves over time, and the savings it delivers increases accordingly.

At LexWorks we take the best of both technologies and combine them to get the highest quality results.

And this is great news for companies who have realized most of the gains to be made from translation memory technology, because with machine translation the benefits are just beginning. We combine people, processes and cutting-edge technology to turn translation into a competitive advantage.

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