The Role of Technology in Translation Today: The multiple meanings of TM, TMS and TMM
Specialised technology in the form of systems and software are necessary for almost any industry. The translation industry is no exception! In fact, there are a variety of technologies that Language Service Providers (LSPs) use to serve their international clients.
In short, all of these programmes increase efficiency by saving translators’ time and thereby saving clients’ money. Perhaps the most important benefit is increased quality. The use of these tools will help ensure quality consistency in the final product.
It can be confusing to understand the differences between these technologies, especially since the names are so similar and the abbreviations are often identical. Ask your prospective translation firms which technology programmes they use and how that matches with the specific needs of your project requirements.
In this article, we will review the commonly referenced translation technology terms while evaluating translation agencies.
Terminology Management (TM)
Terminology Management is a type of software that stores the terminology used in translation projects and the guidelines for terminology use. This is particularly helpful with industry-specific terms and acronyms to consistently apply specific vocabulary throughout the project or future projects.
Translation Memory (TM)
Translation Memory is the storage component of translation memory software or translation memory systems. It’s the part that stores phrases, sentences and even paragraphs. It does not store specific words – that is the function of Terminology Management software.
Translation Memory Software (TMS)
Translation Memory Software refers to software that uses translation memory to aid linguists in translation projects. The software examines the source text (the text being translated) and looks for matching phrases that were used in previously translated documents. It then pulls translations that were previously used and suggests “matching candidates”. The translator can then select to use or reject the suggested translation match.
The programme can be configured to carry out an exact match only or what is referred to as “fuzzy matches”. A fuzzy match is when nearly all of the words in the source document match or are close to a phrase already in the database. In this case, the programme might return the translation associated with that closely matching phrase for the translator to consider using.
If the programme cannot find a match for a phrase or segment of the document, then that portion must be translated manually. This is when native speaking experienced professionals significantly outmatch technology.
Translation Memory System (TMS) or Translation Memory Managers (TMM)
A Translation Memory System may be robust software or multiple software programmes set up to store and use information later. It may include facets of Terminology Management software and Translation Memory Software combined. However, it doesn’t include all of the components of Translation Management Systems (see below).
Translation Management System (TMS)
Sometimes, you might run into the phrase Translation Management System (TMS), which is another concept altogether. A Translation Management System is a programme or group of programmes that supports complex translation tasks, including workflow management, translation memory management, terminology management, reporting and machine translation. It’s the all-in-one solution for some translation firms.
As you can see, many of these concepts use the same acronyms, so if you see one in something you are reading, ensure that it is clear to you as to which tool or concept is actually being referenced.
There are some drawbacks to using these types of programmes; the largest drawback being “error propagation”. This means that if a word or phrase is translated incorrectly initially, then the erroneously translated phrase may be used over and over, exaggerating the mistranslation.
However, the benefits associated with these programmes are huge and thus far outweigh any drawbacks. These technology tools continue to become more commonplace and necessary to the success of many translation firms.
At Renaissance Translations, our professional native speaker translators use Terminology Management software to ensure your project is accurate and uses consistent terminology. Our technology spans multiple industries and thus industry-specific terms, jargon and acronyms are consistently applied between all the language combinations. Using industry-specific native speaker experts to translate your documents is far superior to heavily relying on machine technologies.