Friday, September 29, 2017

Translation Memory

A common topic I review with new and even old clients is the use of our Translation Memory system. This system is a corner stone of the services we provide, and how we provide them, but it often seems a point of confusion for those that don’t work in the industry.

The technology within the translation industry is vital to our process, and the high level of consistency and accuracy we are able to provide across documents. At PLG we utilize the leading commercial software Trados, which is the leading translation memory (TM) program, to store previously completed translations, and assist our translators in current projects. 

It is highly important to distinguish the fact that translations memories are not the same as “machine translation (MT)”. While a machine translation like Google Translate, utilizes algorithms to provide an estimated translation of any given sentence or word, our translation memory software does just as the name implies and memorizes input translations. 

As our professional translators work, they enter their translations into a stored database built just for your company. When future material comes up that is similar to something that was previously translated, the software suggests the “memorized” translation to the translator. The translator then reviews the translation, makes any adjustments necessary, and saves the updated translation to the memory once again. This memory applies to content that is repeated not just within a given document, but across documents and projects.

Over time as we work with a client the translation memory grows larger, and our translators have more material to reference. This allows us to provide more accurate, consistent translations both faster and less costly. Two good examples are the TMs we have built for our customers at Walmart and HoMedics in the past years. The TMs combined have over 3 million translation pairs of sentences between a source language and the target!

Natural Disasters Require Multilingual Responders

Over the past several weeks we have seen several large scale natural disasters from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, to earthquakes in Mexico and now Hurricane Maria. These disasters have forced millions from their homes, and caused billions of dollars of damage. The areas affected will be dealing with the repercussions of these events for years to come. 

It is in times like these we all look to do our part, and help our neighbors as best we can. One need that can often go over looked is the need for translators and interpreters in times like these. While millions of people seek shelter and safety they will need to communicate with those around them, and not all speak English. In order to communicate directions, safety measures, instructions, medical emergencies, and endless other information, we will need multilingual first responders ready to aid in this effort. 

Spanish will certainly be the largest language need, as Texas, Florida and now Puerto Rico have large Spanish speaking populations. However, many other languages will be needed including American Sign Language, Arabic, and Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese and more. 

These events are an important reminder of the key to multilingual communication and translation. Language can often be a difficult gap to bridge, but in times of crisis conveying important information in as many languages as possible can help save lives.