In today’s language translation market, most professional linguists serious about their translation work use some kind of translation memory (TM) software.
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Increased use and development of programs like Trados, Déjà vu, and Wordfast haves produced advantages for both translators and language service providers (LSPS) – but that doesn’t mean it’s been a perfect fit between the two parties.
Disputes over translation memories is just one example of how advances in technology can sometimes have unwanted side effects, and if there is money to be made, someone, somehow will find a way to make it.
Just like any good story, this one has two sides. Both from the perspective of freelance translators, and the LSPs they work with, there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to producing, utilizing, and maintaining TMs.
When a translation agency or language firm contracts linguists to perform translation services, a non-disclosure agreement is signed. Typically found in that contract is a clause stipulating the memory for each and every project must be surrendered to the LSP once completed.
While it’s considered standard practice in the language translation industry, some linguists take issue with the fact that the work they’ve done creating these glossaries is lost once the project is done.
Professional translation experts can spend hours, days, even months on any given translation. The effort is multiplied if the material being translated is in a specialized industry that requires the linguist to research terms they may not be familiar, or require a specific phrase or concept to be conveyed.
Without the clause, Linguists could re-use memories if a similar project was requested. Terms and concepts that had taken a great deal of effort to initially find would then be readily available, making the job that much easier and consistent.
In turn, many language service providers require linguists they employ to use some kind of translation memory software, if not a specific program, or list of selected providers. LSP’s request discounts from linguists citing the TM software’s advantage in making the project completion that much easier.
On the other side of the coin, translation companies often deal with clients that bring sensitive, specialized, or proprietary information requiring a signed confidentiality agreement before work can begin.
Requiring the return of TM’s with each project gives language firms the ability to retain data for future projects with that client, making the process smoother and more consistent.
In an increasingly competitive marketplace, many successful bids rely on pricing as a major component. TM discounts help these translation agencies compete when submitting proposals, which in turn benefits those translators that receive the translation work.
From a “value-added” and efficiency standpoint, translation companies also deliver copies of the translation memory and glossary to the client with the final product, while retaining local versions for future project use.
As the adaptation of translation services continues, the role and use of TM software continues to evolve. Debates over issues such as TM retention will surely continue will each side offering compelling argument as to why they’re entitled to have access to files