How to leverage Translation Memory and glossary to achieve global message consistency? Approximately 15% of all translation project costs come from rework, and the primary cause of rework is inconsistent terminology.




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    Offering content in different languages opens the door to huge possibilities in terms of international markets and multicultural audiences, but it comes with challenges. One critical point for global firms and government organisations when dealing with multilingual content is to achieve message and brand consistency. Every organisation has its own language and lingo and this has to be reflected also in translated content. Some terms would have never been translated before and therefore the need for consistency across all content materials becomes essential. In some cases, your organisation will be working with different translators or even different language service providers for its content which makes it harder to achieve consistency.

    In this post, you will learn what a Translation Memory (TM) and a glossary are and how you can leverage these tools to ensure a consistent message and brand across your multilingual content.

    Approximately 15% of all translation project costs come from rework, and the primary cause of rework is inconsistent terminology.

    What is a Translation Memory (TM)?

    A Translation Memory (TM) is a linguistic database built into your translation management tool that continually captures translations as you translate content. All previous translations are accumulated within the translation memory and reused so that you never have to translate the same sentence twice. The more translations you add into your translation memory, the faster you can translate subsequent translations. Translation memory is a good example of how you can use historical data to increase efficiency and consistency across your translated content. It is also a way to reduce translation costs as you don’t need to re-translate previously translated content.

    The use of translation memory is most effective when working with content which has a high level of repetitions or uses particular expressions or lingo.

    Leveraging Translation Memory to achieve consistency

    By having a translation memory, you can ensure that from an initial translation, all future related translations are using the same terms when the content to be translated matches content from previous pieces. This way, the translation memory suggests previous translations to be reused and helps the translator keep a consistent message in their translation. Even if you use two different translators or translation providers, the TM will allow you to suggest previous translations to be used, helping you achieve consistency.

    What is a glossary?

    A glossary, or translation glossary, is fully aimed at achieving message consistency. A translation memory tool stores segments of text as translation units (in source and target pairs). A segment can consist of a sentence or paragraph. A glossary, on the other hand, is a searchable database that contains a list of multilingual terms and rules regarding their usage. It is a tool or document that helps you mitigate this consistency problem. You may also hear it referred to as a lexicon, term base or terminology collection. The glossary contains your key terminology in your source language (typically English) and approved translations for that terminology in all your target languages.

    Leveraging the glossary to achieve consistency

    The glossary is one of the key tools, along with a style guide and Translation Memory, to ensure that all translated materials meet your quality requirements. The glossary helps your translators make sure that each time a defined key term appears, in any language, it is used consistently and correctly. For example, the terms “laptop” and “notebook computer” are synonymous, but you should choose to use just one of these terms for all materials supporting your new product.

    If you enforce that standard on your technical authors, you should enforce it among the translators and their materials as well. Moreover, the glossary becomes even more important for maintaining consistency if you use more than one translation resource. This is especially true in the case of tight deadlines when many translators may be working on various elements of a project simultaneously.

    Enforcing the use of a glossary along with the use of a translation memory will enable you to achieve better consistency in your multilingual content and to reduce costs by preventing reworks and gaining efficiency.

    Thomas Lespes-Muñoz

    About Thomas Lespes-Muñoz

    Multilingual Digital Marketer at 2M Language Services, I regularly re-publish content pieces from my company's blog written by our experienced industry professionals.

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