Top Five Causes of Translation Memory Degradation

By Sarah-Claire Jordan

Top Five Causes of Translation Memory Degradation artTranslation memories, or “TMs”, are extremely useful tools for companies that rely heavily on translation, which will soon be most companies. A translation memory is any sort of document or tool that serves as a record and reference for the agreed-upon translations of specific terminology and phrases used by a company. They save many companies time and money by making it easier on translators to do their job.

However, translation memories aren’t something you can create once and forget. As time goes by, they become less and less useful, and, frankly, outdated. There are many reasons why this happens, but here are the five most common causes:

1. Lack of TM organization

It can be easy to create one TM for your company to use, but if you have just one catch-all TM that gets used for every single client and project, you are going to run into some issues. If you don’t separate things and create different TMs for different projects, you will have a whole lot of terms without their original context, and then they could get used wrong. Make sure each type of client and type of project, as well as each individual client and project, have their own TMs.

2. Working with different translation services

Lots of times, when you work with different translators to translate your company’s content, you end up with inconsistencies in your TM in terms of terminology used and formatting. This can also happen within your company, where one department uses certain terms for something but another uses a different term. Try to straighten these issues out and get everyone on board with the same terms, and go back and decide on translations for terms with inconsistencies.

3. Linguistic evolution

Even outside the world of technology and business, languages are known to evolve and adapt to the needs of the people who speak them. When you add fast-growing industries to the mix and sprinkle on some technological advances, you have a recipe for batches and batches of new terminology. Many times, new terms will eclipse old ones, and they will need to be updated or even replaced. This needs to be taken care of as soon as it happens to keep all TMs fresh and current.

4. Target customer changes

Perhaps your product was first aimed at older customers, but then you realized it was something younger people would enjoy more and they were buying it more. In that case, you would have to adapt your language and style to better reach these customers, and the TM would have to be updated accordingly.

5. Product changes

The last cause for TM degradation is changes related to products or services. If there are products or services that are discontinued, but others that are still selling, you may have some leeway in terms of overlapping TM information, but otherwise, it would probably be best to create a new TM for each new product or product line.

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Category: Business Translation

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