Archive for the ‘Volume’ Category

What is a Translation Memory and How Does it Work?

February 4, 2010

Luckily, a translation memory is not a mental ability that translators must develop to be able to do their jobs. Rather, it is a computer based software tool that facilitates and supports translation work.

Working with translation memories does not mean machine translation. This is something entirely different. A translation memory retains the translations done by a human translator along with the original text and stores both in its database for later reuse. The tool itself is not actively involved in the translation process. A human translator still does all the job.

The screenshot shows how translation memories work: They chop up the text in little segments (sentences mostly), which are translated consecutively by the human translator. When the translator is satisfied with the solution, s/he confirms the segment by selecting the corresponding function and proceeds to the next segment. Both, the sentence of the source document and the translated sentence of the target document are stored in a database.

The advantage of translation memories clearly lies in the faster and easier processing of texts with a large number of recurring or similar sentences and phrases. This is the case in technical texts of all sorts, such as contracts, user manuals, process documentations, and so on. For creative, artistic or aesthetically pleasing texts, however, translation memories must be used with excessive care to keep the unique and original nature of such texts alive.

keep it in mind


How Much How Fast?

September 8, 2009

To get an idea of how large an amount of text can be translated in one day, simply try to imagine writing a text in your native language. How many pages will you be able to produce in a day? Two, three maybe? If you are experienced in writing, perhaps four or five pages? That is, of course, high quality text without typos, with good and steady grammar, logical sentence structure and idiomatic style. Oh, yes, and not to forget with a catching effect on the reader!

Actually, the amount that can be translated by an experienced translator ranges between about 1000 and 4000 words per day. In other words, ten standard pages tops. The actual quantity depends on the text type to be translated.


Time and Error

August 24, 2009

Don’t expect a 500 pages document to be translated within 2 days unless you are willing to coordinate the work of about 30 translators. Remember how long it took to write the source text in the first place.

A rule of thumb is: One standard page takes about one hour, give or take 15 minutes. Provided the text is of a general nature and not too technical, of course (I will write about technical texts in some future entry…).

So, in a nutshell, you can expect to get about 10 pages of text with average difficulty translated per day by one individual. If you ask the person to do more in the same time, quality will drop. Inevitably.

quality rules