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Resistance to Translation Memory. Part 4

This post continues our series of articles about why some translation professionals resist using translation productivity tools. The previous articles focused on valid arguments against TM programs, various myths about them, and looking at TM programs as productivity tools.

“If I use these programs, I’ll fall victim to discounts for repetitions or matches”

A few weeks ago, we worked on a project that included about 1,500 100% matches. We provided a standard discount for these matches initially, but then found out they were extremely poor translations. Absolutely no way to reuse them in the new project. As a result, we contacted the client and canceled the discount. But despite charging the full rate for 100% matches in that project, we used a TM tool to process it.

The point of this example is to show that when a TM-based discount is inappropriate in a specific project, you may choose not to provide a discount, but still use a TM tool for translation. And likewise, you may provide a discount for repetitions or matches in a specific project, but then translate it without any TM tool. My point is simply that discounts for repetitions or matches have little to do with TM tools! This may sound weird, and I’ll explain it in more detail. When a client requests a discount because the second part of the text to translate is identical to the first part, it’s a valid reason for a discount, irregardless of whether you use any tool or not, isn’t it? By the same token, when a client wants to update an existing translation, it’s natural for them to be willing to pay just for the new material, not for the entire text as if you were going to translate it from scratch. This client doesn’t care whether you’ll use any tool to simplify processing the old material or not, they just want the discount.

In the above examples, there’s no direct connection between a TM tool and a discount. Why? Because a discount is a personal choice that a translator makes based on the project scope or the existing translation quality. In fact, a client may request a discount even if you don’t use any TM tool since it’s common sense to avoid paying more in a situation where the client is entitled to pay less. By looking at a TM program from this point of view, you may realize it’s just a tool that makes it easier to process those repetitions or matches for you. It doesn’t put any pressure on you to provide a discount.

Simply put, the ability to use a TM tool doesn’t automatically mean you’re supposed to provide discounts for repetitions or matches every time. You consider potential projects on a case-by-case basis and then make an intelligent choice about whether to provide a discount. If you choose to do so, a TM tool helps you justify the discount by making you more efficient at handling matches and repetitions.

“I don’t use these tools because the texts I translate have no internal repetitions”

Although auto-propagation of repetitions is indeed an essential function of any TM tool, it’s not just about repetitions. TM tools offer many other features to boost translator’s productivity. An editor view allows you to conveniently have both the source and target text in the same window and saves time you would otherwise spend on locating the respective source text in the original document. A translation memory and glossary help you access previous translations instantaneously, without scratching your head in an effort to remember how exactly you translated a recurring term or phrase. By working in a TM tool, you’re always able to produce a bilingual output, which allows automatic quality assurance checks, e.g. with CheckMate. All these and a multitude of other powerful functions improve translator’s productivity and satisfaction—all with a positive effect on the quality and consistency of translations.

“I don’t like to reuse someone else’s TM”

Reusing a legacy TM created by someone else can be frustrating. If an original translator(s) did a poor job, you’ll end up not only doing your part of the project, but also checking the old translations. Another problem is that many translators simply don’t like other people’s translations and feel the urge to “fix” them. A translation may be actually quite good, but a translator may nonetheless want to make a few preferential changes.

I think this is another personal choice you have to make when it comes to using TM tools. If you are completely against third-party TMs, you need to market your services to direct clients, rather than translation agencies since third-party TMs normally come from agencies. Otherwise, you’ve got to train yourself to be more tolerant to other people’s translations. Make it a habit to always look up words in a TM database and enjoy building your own translation upon previous work of others, rather than tearing their work down.

How do you feel about the above arguments?


  • Me says:

    This is a pack of lies! When an agency asks for a CAT tool, it automatically means they expect the translator to use a “Trados grid”/sliding scale! And I have tried to use Trados Studio/Multiterm in my own interest, without giving any rebate, but it takes hours to enter vocabulary in Multiterm, so I lost my best client and prefer to keep entering my terminology and codes to accelerate typing in MS Word’s Autocorrect macros! I strongly recommend to ALL translators to GIVE UP CAT tools and use AUTOCORRECT only! CAT tools have been designed to rob translators. As if they were not poor enough. SDL is a CAT tool producer, but also a translation agency: see the relationship? Let’s stop the nonsense! Only computer technicians/engineers are still DAYDREAMING about the usefulness of CAT tools for translating! Only large institutions with huge translations needs, always in the same field(s), like the EU institutions, can afford developing such tools and can make them profitable. For the rest of the world, it is taking people for idiots…and lying to them….

    • Thanks for your comment! Although your point of view is so different from mine, it sure is a great addition to my series of posts because it adds perspective to what I’m saying. And I do agree that “Trados grid”/sliding scale” can be frustrating sometimes. Personally, I’m not too excited about 100% matches that come from another translator because they usually require full revision, but many clients aren’t prepared to pay for them at a standard revision rate. Many want a lower, special “100 match” rate.
      I do believe, though, that “Trados grid”/sliding scale” is not about CAT tools at all. It is about the text—internal repetitions and matches with previous translations. A CAT tool only simplifies your work by helping you discover and process them. If a client realizes a text is very repetitive and uses that as a reason to negotiate a discount, do they care whether you are going to use a CAT tool or not?
      Take care,

  • Bob says:

    Which repetitions are you talking about ? Titles, quotations ?
    One thing that good translators and good writers feel (or have learned) is that repetitions must be avoided.
    CAT tools are useful for building terminological data bases, and for translating more technical texts. Pharmaceutical lists, etc.

    • Hi Bob,
      When you’re working in a CAT tool, it breaks the text into, and presents you with, the so called segments. A segment is usually equal to a sentence. For example, you may have an email to translate:
      Hello, John,
      I received your email. Thank you. I also wanted to let you know that I don’t agree with what they’re saying.
      Thank you.
      A CAT tool will present you with the segments that you’ll translate separately, one by one (normally, this means that you open, translate, and then close each segment):
      1st segment: Hello, John,
      2nd segment: I received your email.
      3rd segment: Thank you.
      4th segment: I also wanted to let you know that I don’t agree with what they’re saying.
      5th segment: Thank you.
      6th segment: Tom
      As you see, the segments 3 and 5 are identical (Thank you). This is what a CAT tool calls a repetition. The best thing about a repetition is that as soon as you translate the first occurrence, the second one is translated automatically so that you don’t have to type the translation again.
      Simply put, identical sentences within a file or across several files within a project are considered internal repetitions, and after you translate the first occurrence, all the rest of them get translated automatically.
      Hope this helps,

  • Me says:

    Just avoid agencies, and you’ll avoid all that CAT tool bullshit. Agencies are thieves by nature anyway. There are enough end-customers. Do not lose your time and revenues on intermediaries and CAT tools. Life is short. All you want is get rich, not make f.. intermediaries and CAT tool producers rich, right? So…

  • Bob says:

    These simplistic examples are useless.
    Translators must avoid repetitions. Period.
    Sorry but I have to insist.
    CAT Tools are useful for technical terminology and titles.
    Otherwise : they are cumbersome and dangerous.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.