Thanks to the technology available on the market, consolidating translation memories (TMs) from multiple sources into one centralized repository is a simple process. Yet, it is also a daunting task, as conflicting (and sometimes erroneous) terminology will be merged in a same translation memory.
Problem: Very often, multiple offices within a globally integrated organization use multiple translation companies without sharing translation memories (TMs) or information related to the translation process. As a result, multiple TMs are being used in multiple locations. To complicate matters, if some of the Language Service Providers (LSPs) were not provided with approved glossaries or style sheets, they most likely have developed their own terminology. Consequently, there might be multiple possible translations being used by different LSPs for a same English term. From a strictly financial point of view, money (and time) is also wasted, as the different locations within the organization are not benefitting from the TM leverage they could have if they shared all TMs from all offices. In other words, if location A has already translated some particular content which is included in their own TMs (which they are not sharing with other offices) and if location B has a need to translate similar content, location B will know that location A has already paid for this content to get it translated and that the translation (or some of it) is available in a TM somewhere within the organization.
Solution: The solution to this problem is to consolidate or merge all the TMs into one large centralized repository. Then the merged or consolidated TMs need to be cleaned up to make all entries consistent and to delete wrong or erroneous entries (see TM Clean-Up). Last but not least, one primary LSP needs to be designated. This LSP will be in charge of updating and maintaining the TMs on an ongoing basis on behalf of all the other LSPs, if more than one vendor is used within the organization. In this case, it is agreed that all vendors will provide the primary LSP with their TMs once a month (or whenever it is decided to send the TMs). The primary LSP will then update the centralized repository with the newly received translated content and will provide each translation vendor with the latest TMs. This is an ongoing process, which ensures that all translation suppliers will use the same TMs and the same terminology. Consistency is guaranteed within the whole organization, within families of products, and between marketing literature and technical documentation. Also, everyone within the organization can benefit from the translation memory leverage, regardless of where the content was translated, which saves time and money.
Processes for Consolidating or Merging Translation Memories:
There are three ways to consolidate, update, or create Translation Memories:
- Creating or Updating a TM using segmented or “uncleaned” translated files (Bilingual files) — It is a very simple process, which consists of feeding a new or existing translation memory with text segments provided by the client (these segments contain both the source and the target languages and have been created using a translation memory tool). These segmented files are simply added to an existing TM or used to create a new one from scratch.
- Merging TMs from different LSPs — With SDL Trados Studio it is now possible to merge several translation memories into one. SDL Trados Studio offers the Upgrade Translation Memories option under the Tools menu.
- Aligning files — This is the most time consuming process. A text alignment tool will be used to create a translation memory from previously translated text (that was not translated using a translation memory utility). It is a process of creating equivalents, segment by segment, between a source text and the corresponding translated text. The resulting “table of equivalents” will then be imported to a translation memory. Alignment makes it possible to use previous translations that were done without translation support software. Alignment operations nevertheless require a considerable amount of manual intervention. A linguist is involved to make sure the segments were aligned correctly, and use of filters might also be necessary to convert files into a translation memory friendly format.
TM Clean-Up: After merging all of the TMs into one single repository, chances are that there will be multiple translations for one same English entry. The terms “surgical irrigation solutions” for instance, may have been translated in different ways by the multiple LSPs if they were not provided with an approved glossary. If the newly merged repository is not cleaned up after the consolidation of all the TMs, chances are that linguists will be confronted with multiple translations when searching for entries, which is confusing and may lead to inconsistencies and quality issues. It is therefore recommended to clean up the newly merged repository to make sure all entries are consistent with the approved glossary and to remove discrepancies. This is a one-time process performed right after the merger of the TMs. After that, everyone will need to comply with the approved glossary and with the terminology found in the shared and centralized repository.
Conclusion: The consolidation or merger of multiple TMs into one large repository is one step in the right direction for any organization that has been using multiple LSPs and has not centralized their TMs. It will enable consistency of the terminology within the whole organization, within families of products, and between marketing literature and technical documentation. It will also save time and money to everyone within the organization.
About Excel Translations, Inc.
Excel Translations is the market leader in ISO 9001-, ISO 13485- and ISO 17100-certified medical translation services. Since 1996, Excel Translations has been specializing in the globalization needs of regulated companies in the life sciences and healthcare industries. We work with Fortune 1000 companies in the Medical Device Manufacturing, Biotechnology, IVD, and Pharmaceutical industries as well as with Contract Research Organization (CROs) and have tailored our ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and ISO 17100 translation processes to meet the specific requirements of these industries. We have become the preferred translation partner of life sciences and healthcare companies, large and small, in the US, Asia and Europe.