When we were preparing to open our doors for business 20 years ago, we studied the technology landscape of the translation localization market and quickly realized the necessity of investing in robust Translation Memory (TM) tools. Since then, we rarely process projects that don’t leverage the use of these tools.
In a previous blog, we wrote about the essential parts of a robust translation memory tool. Here we explain why it is important that these parts operate correctly and efficiently.
1. Accurate and comprehensive parsers. Although XML is making significant strides in becoming a standard output format for authoring systems, for website files and for user interface resource files, there remain still many file formats that use proprietary formats requiring specialized or customized parsers. The more file formats a TM tool can accommodate, the wider and more applicable its use will be.
What is very important while handling a certain file format is to give the translator the ability to detect where exactly the text to translate is located. Also very important is the ability to discern internal tags to know exactly what text inside these tags requires translation.
Incorrectly processing a file format or its tags can severely disturb the translated file output format requiring many hours of engineering or desktop publishing to enable the files to display professionally, or for the software to properly compile.
2. Accurate and configurable segmenter. Once a file format is correctly parsed, strings are then separated into complete segments as in headers, footers, callouts, markers or sentences. In short, this is the engine that separates full segments and sentences from each other in a paragraph or a text, to allow the translator to translate the text one complete sentence at time and to enable the Translation Memory tool to store that translation in a database for future retrieval and reuse.
What is important to note here is that TM tools that do not accurately segment a file, will either permit storing of incomplete sentences in the database or fail to find 100% matches in follow up updates. This will create either inaccurate or inefficient steps in the process reducing the quality of leveraged translations or increasing the overhead that is necessary to update files.
Since no translation memory tool can be 100% accurate in its segmentation of files, it is important that segmenters achieve as close as possible to the ideal goal while permitting the translator to easily break a segment into multiple parts, or join them together to form complete and coherent sentences when needed.
Configurable exception rules are also very important and will facilitate the enhancement of the segmentation algorithm over a period of time.
3. Accurate Fuzzy Match engines. Fuzzy matching calculations are very important for accurate accounting of costs and schedules. If the wrong percentages of matching are calculated, they can easily throw off budgetary estimates on costs and schedules required to complete the translation, possibly causing a project to go over budget and behind schedule.
The basic Levenshtein algorithm that is applied in free or non-professional TM tools is inaccurate and therefore costly. Read Fuzzy Match or Fuzzy Math? for more information on why this is so.
4. A familiar or intuitive user interface that requires minimum learning and facilitates translation work is of great value to translators. Most translators don’t want to write macros, cut and paste text or process code before they start translating. Ideally, they want to open a file and perform what they are best at doing, translate. Anything beyond that takes away from time that can be used to perfect the translation or perform more of it.
Translation Document Preparation
Even with the most advanced Translation Memory tools, one will run across a legacy or complex file format that is unsupported. Here, one has to find workarounds or create a custom parser to handle the proper translation of the document. Your translation company’s technical competency and intimate know-how of the Translation Memory tool will then play a central role in overcoming the requirements.
So before you engage translation service providers ask them how mature and complete their TM tools are and how technically sophisticated their team is. They could make a big difference in the end budget, quality and schedule of your projects!
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