As the name suggests, the Translation Memory system is a type of database that is used in computer programs designed to help translators.
Translation memories are typically used in conjunction with computer-assisted translation (CAT tools), programs for data processing, terminology management systems, and multilingual dictionaries. Translation memory consists of segments of text in the source language and their translations into one or more target languages. These segments can be passages, paragraphs, sentences or phrases. Individual words are not in the translation memory domains; they are processed in terminology bases.
The translation process with a TM system
The translator first enters the source text that needs to be translated into the translation memory. The program then scans the text in order to find segments in its database and displays them to the translator. The translator then examines the offered translation and can accept, reject or modify it, and then use the modified version. In this case, the modified version is saved and stored in the database. When using translation memory, varying degrees of concordance can be determined/used. Segments with no concordance matches must be manually translated. These new segments are stored in the database so that they can be used in other translations.
It is important to note that a translation memory is not a system for automatic translation. The system “does not understand” the text and it cannot translate itself, but can only store what the translator has entered. It serves only as an aid to the translator. The TM system is only one option/ way to store translations. It does not check whether there are linguistic or grammatical errors in the translation. If an error is stored together with the translation, it remains in the TM system until the translator detects and corrects it.
In addition, it can be used effectively only when the original texts have adequate quality. Apart from that, one must take into account the structure and consistency in the use of terminology.
Translation memories are most useful when translating texts with a lot of repetition, as is the case with technical documentation (user manuals, etc.) and documents containing specialized terminology. Translation Memory is not considered appropriate for literary texts because there are few repetitions.
- High quality translation
- Consistency of terminology – this is important when different translators are working on the same project
- Speeding up the overall translation process, shortening delivery times and thus
- Reducing the cost of translation projects.
While the translation of the majority of product-related supporting materials, such as documents, license agreements or marketing materials requires the use of translation memory systems or various terminology management tools, there are special localization tools for the localization of user interfaces of various software products.
Localization tools are special software applications that are based on translation memory technology and are designed to help the translator when processing texts of user interfaces (menus, dialogs, system messages) and adapting the graphic elements. One of the main features of software tools is their WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) function. This means that the translator has the ability to see the current translation unit in its real context. On the other hand, the translator can adjust the text field to the length of the target text and edit images with text or culturally variable elements. During localization, the translatable text is extracted from the source code, and at the end, the translated text is entered back into the source code.
These tools have extensive functions for quality assurance and the possibility of integrating dictionaries/glossaries.
Software products can be functionally divided into a number of components. The most important components within software localization are the user interface and the documentation.
Most localization projects begin with a localization of the application’s graphical user interface. It is a central component of the localization. The following components of the user interface are to be localized: menus, dialogs, and strings (warning messages, error messages, status messages, etc.), as well as various sample files that are used for demonstration.
All the existing commands of a software are grouped into menus. A menu is a list of different commands, i.e. options. By clicking one of the menu options, the menu expands by opening downwards, so that it is also called a dropdown menu. In the dropdown menu, each option can have multiple sub-options, i.e. it represents a group of related commands. The context menu is obtained by clicking the right mouse button. The menu appears at the point where you clicked and contains commands that can be applied at that time.
The dialogues are a special type of window that poses questions, enables you to select an option for performing a task or provides information.
Hotkeys and shortcuts are the components that appear in menus and dialogues. A shortcut is a command on the keyboard which can be specifically called up. It is characterized by an underlined letter in the menu name, menu item or command, and is called up via a corresponding key combination.
Graphic elements: Icons are small graphic symbols which represent various programs, files, and other objects. In addition, they also serve to activate/give commands and run programs.
The software may include: printed documentation that includes installation instructions and user manuals as well as marketing materials, registry cards, etc., and online documentation: online guides, web pages, and online help.
Online help is usually the most extensive component of the translation of most localization projects. The advantage of online help in relation to printed documentation is that the user can directly access help via a web page or user interface, without interrupting any work. This is done by selecting a specific topic from the Help menu, clicking on the link or button on the user interface, or by pressing a special key. Online help includes direct answers to specific questions and displays them in a separate window or in a separate dialog box. Texts in the online help system are divided into smaller sections/areas so that the user does not need much time to find the desired information. Online help structure follows the hypertext principle. This means that it is possible to jump from one section to another.