Are Your Out-of-Date TMs Compromising Your Localization Effort?
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Are Your Out-of-Date TMs Compromising Your Localization Effort?

Are Your Out-of-Date TMs Compromising Your Localization Effort?


Your Translation Memory (TM) could really be holding you back. It could be introducing quality issues that impact user satisfaction and brand perception. Your TM should be your best linguistic asset but, if it’s old, it may not be the friend you want it to be.

One of our most popular recent blogs talked about how, over time, many enterprises have quality problems — such as obsolete terminology, mistranslated text multiple translations — due to massive TMs, grown large because of the exponential growth of translations in the past decade. You may be facing the same issue as well.

There are other reasons not related to wrong or inconsistent translations that may be cluttering your TM with junk. Consider what could happen when the conventions of a language have changed over time, or when a corporation decides to adopt a new, more casual style. For example:

  • Governing bodies have made significant spelling, grammar, and/or vocabulary changes in certain languages. Changes to Portuguese were formalized in 2009, including the elimination of the umlaut and new rules about hyphens. In Spanish, 2 of the 29 letters disappeared in 2010, and the “q” is no longer to be used in foreign words (Irak instead of Iraq).
  • In some languages, such as German and Spanish, there are formal versus informal registers that differ in subject and verb structures. The formal register is falling out of favor.
  • User assistance and marketing materials in the retail and technology sectors are becoming more casual, trendy, and fun. This represents a major style change from the “old” days where the interaction between consumer and enterprise was more formal.

In all of the above cases, your TM will drag these outdated linguistic conventions to your new translations. To correct it, linguists need to review and change things such as grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and verb/noun agreement to produce a correct and current translation.

Cost and Time Implications of a Degraded TM

This is going to cost you time and money. When you are relying on a TM with stale and obsolete content, the linguist will need to spend more time — and charge more — in order to catch the changes in spelling or adapt to the corporate style guidelines.

What is the evidence that your TMs may be handcuffing you?

  • Throughputs are slower than standard; linguists need more time to do their jobs.
  • The increased time requirements are affecting time-to-market turnarounds for products in certain languages.
  • Stylistic, grammatical, and structural errors are showing up in language quality reports, rather than accuracy issues.
  • In-country reviewers are complaining that the translations don’t sound current or that the voice and tone isn’t right.
  • Spelling and grammar errors, while seemingly small, are affecting how the brand is perceived, creating problems with product adoption or customer retention.

So, should your TM strategy remain the same after the buildup of so much content over time? A TM’s main purpose is to auto-populate to save time and cost associated with translating from scratch. It is also valuable to ensure consistency within the current project and with previous projects.

What if you no longer want consistency with those past projects? You must start thinking about the cost of using the TM as is and doing some heavy editing, versus the cost of doing the work from scratch — both of which cost more than having an updated and clean TM.

If the TM no longer works to produce easy-to-use content, then you need to clean it up and restore the TM to its primary purposes. We explain how to do that here.

What challenges have you faced in translation memory usage with language and style changes?