If you think technology has no place in the translation process, think again. Virtually every translator and every translation company in the world today is working with some form of language technology. Here’s a quick guide to the four key technologies you need to know about:
The most widely used technology is called Translation Memory. It’s a simple idea. Imagine you’re a translator. You translate a sentence into, let’s say, German. Translation Memory remembers that sentence so that the next time it comes up, the translator is prompted to use the existing translation. It helps to drive consistency in translations, gets the job done faster, and can save a lot of money too.
Next up is Terminology Management. This works a bit like Translation Memory, but remembers key terms or phrases to ensure that they are used and translated consistently – think of product names and straplines, for instance. Terminology Management takes a lot of effort from both you and your agency – but it’s worth the effort in the long run.
A relatively new technology which is becoming mainstream now is called Translation Proxy. If you’re struggling to maintain a multilingual website, you should take a look at this, it’s really clever. Your content is automatically translated into the user’s language based on their language preferences. The translations can come from your Translation Memories, or via Machine Translation, or a combination of both. Any time you make a change to your content, just get it translated, and you don’t have to worry about updating your CMS with the translations.
Last but not least, there is Machine Translation. Right now, this option only really suits organisations with really large content libraries. Machine Translation (or MT) works by “training” an MT Engine using your existing Translation Memories. That makes it better than public automatic translation, because it’s built specifically for your company.