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?