A Few Words

Thanks for the Memories: The Many Benefits of Translation Memory

Posted by Troy Helm on Aug 5, 2015 4:05:00 PM

Understandably, occasional buyers of translation services may have misconceptions about what’s involved in a translation project. More often than not, they think of translation as a commodity. They shop around for the cheapest vendor, much like they do for office supplies.

Carpenter-Tools3It’s important to realize that translation isn’t a commodity. It’s a service. Who performs the service and the tools they use to do the job matter. Just as you would expect a skilled carpenter to use a hammer, drill, and square, there are certain tools you should expect your language service provider (LSP) to use. Translation memory (TM) is arguably one of the most important of those tools. And you should be wary of any LSP that doesn’t utilize it - you might be paying twice to translate the same sentence.

A Translation memory is a database that stores sentences, phrases, or other “segments” of text that have been previously translated by humans. These saved “translation units” are then automatically reused so a translator never has to translate a sentence more than once. The TM tool applies the translation memory to the source file (original material to be translated) to identify any 100% matches (identical segments) or fuzzy matches (similar segments). The translator can then accept the matches suggested by TM or override them with a new translation. Any new translated segments or updated segments are added to the TM for future re-use.

TM should not be confused with machine translation (MT) or glossaries. MT attempts to entirely replace the human translator with software; TM re-uses human translations. It is the translator using a TM tool who ultimately decides whether or not it is correct to use a match. Glossaries contain a list of approved terminology so that human translations are consistent and follow a defined style. They typically do not provide matches for segments of text. There are also tools to manage and use a glossary, and when combined with a TM and other tools are called a Translation Management System (TMS).

Using a TM provides many benefits that extend to both language service providers and translation buyers. Here’s how: 

  1. WatchandKeysSpeed. Think of translators as a scarce and valuable resource whose time should be used wisely. TM allows translators to concentrate on new material rather than wasting time on translating the same sentence over and over again. This is especially important when working with content such as a technical manual that stays consistent from year to year. Translation memory can save significant amounts of time in these cases by eliminating the time to re-translate entire sentences, paragraphs or pages.

  2. Cost. Translation is typically charged by the word. For example, if a document is 10,000 words and your LSP charges $0.15 per word, you will pay $1,500 to get the job done. But, let’s suppose the document is a revision to the technical manual from the point above. Chances are the bulk of the text is the same as the previous version. TM will already have those segments saved, meaning there are fewer words to actually translate. Of course, this also means that copywriters should not change acceptable sentences because they can, or the full benefit is lost. Anything that isn’t matched by TM will be translated.

  3. Consistency. Translation memory allows for greater consistency within a document and across a company’s content. The preferred way to translate certain phrases has already been approved so those translation units will remain the same across all documents, no matter which translator is working on the project.

Translation memory is one of the important tools that makes the difference in quality, speed, and cost of delivering professional translation work. A translation service provider that doesn’t talk to you about translation memory or doesn’t use it is not providing top-notch service or reasonable pricing. If you have an ongoing need for fast, accurate, and easy translation, it’s not something you should do without.

Topics: Translation Basics, Translation Tools

Freelance Translators: The Preferred Solution

Posted by Agnieszka Ostrowska on Jul 23, 2015 11:59:00 AM

self-employed-nutritionistThere’s been much ado lately about the rise of the freelance economy. More workers want the flexibility of independent careers and more companies need freelancers to scale labor efficiently to meet client demands.

Interestingly, the freelance economy is nothing new when it comes to translation services. Freelancers have long been the backbone of the industry. Most professional translators are actually independent contractors…and prefer it that way. The arrangement benefits translators, language service providers, and where it matters the most: the translation customer. Here’s why:

1.  Autonomy. Historically, translators worked together in offices because they needed the infrastructure. Transmitting information was difficult (faxes, banks of dial-up modems and phone lines), transferring money internationally was expensive, and it was difficult to market services to a large enough audience. However, because of the Internet and international payment systems like PayPal, translators no longer need access to an office. Technology has made it very easy for individuals to “hang a shingle” and work as professional full-time translators without going into an office everyday. The world’s best translators, especially those with experience in highly specialized subjects, prefer to work as freelancers and have so much demand they only accept the jobs they want to do. What could be better?

2.  Specialization.  The best translations come from translators who are subject-matter experts as well as linguists. In the same way that it would be very difficult for someone to explain text about a subject (such as electrical engineering or law) with which they are unfamiliar, it is equally difficult for translators to comprehend and fluidly translate a document about a subject they don’t deeply understand. When you don’t know vocabulary or how terminology is standardly used, the translation does not read smoothly. This is especially problematic because English, a common source language, is highly context-sensitive. For example, the term “derivative” is expressed differently when used in a finance, mathematics or legal context. In fact, many “awkward” translations, often dismissed as “translated by a machine,” are done by a translator who simply does not understand what they are reading. They do a very literal or “wooden” translation.

RecognizeExcellence3. Better outcomes. If a company has in-house translators, they must use them preferentially to keep them busy. So if they receive an assignment for a legal translation from Spanish to English, but only have generalists or technical translators available in-house, the economics mean those employees will be asked to perform the translation. In short, the best translator for the job isn’t necessarily doing the job. Additionally, it is impossible to staff for the highs and lows of translation demand. Either the costs would be astronomically high to pay people to sit in a room and not translate (and those costs would be passed on to customers), or they would not have the capacity to take on large volumes of work. Many of the largest traditional translation agencies outsource translation to other in-country translation companies with their own internal teams – with all the aforementioned issues. Technology enables the management of networks of individual freelance professionals to be easily coordinated and scaled. It’s more efficient and more effective.

Knowing this, having a team of freelancers working on your project shouldn’t alarm you, as it is truly to your advantage. However, you should know about your team’s qualifications. If you are unsure, here are three good questions to ask your language service provider:

  1. How does the company find, test and manage the quality of freelance translators?
  2. How does the company use technology to manage large teams of individual translators?
  3. Do team members have experience with the subject matter?

In the end, this is what’s key to know about these independent contractors:  freelance does not mean part-time or not professional. These individuals have both professional degrees and years of experience in their craft. They are the best in their fields and those who are best equipped to handle your translation needs.

Topics: Translation Basics

10 Industry Terms Every Translation Buyer Needs to Know

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jul 16, 2015 11:45:00 AM


Speaking fluently with your translation service provider? Every industry has its own specialized jargon and the translation business is no exception. Here is a list of ten of the industry’s most commonly used terms.

Exact Match:  A translation memory match where the source text of to be translated is character-for-character exactly the same as the source text of the saved translation. Despite being an exact match, the sentence must be reviewed by an editor to make sure that the sentence is correct in the new context (such as gender or case).

Fuzzy Match:  A translation memory match where the source text of to be translated is almost the same as the source text of the saved translation. The difference can be as simple as one word or gender difference to a sentence that the translation memory software interprets as reasonably close to a previous translation. Used as a starting point for the translator and provides cost savings to the customer.

Glossary:  A collection of terms prepared before a translation project begins containing preferred translations for terms that are highly technical, have multiple potential translations or meanings, are vague or open to mistranslation. Glossaries also usually include terms that are non-translatable, such as trademarked product names or company names, or require marketing input (e.g. tag lines, product names, etc.), to indicate exactly how these items must appear in the translation. Glossary matches are typically applied automatically by translation tools, instead of relying upon translator recollection to provide consistency.

Localization (L10N):  Process of adapting content or a product for a locale or market. Translation is a step in the L10N process, which may include modifying design or layout, adapting formats such as dates and phone numbers, or addressing legal/local requirements.

Mother Tongue:  A linguist’s first language, which is usually the primary language of their home country and/or parents. With very rare exceptions, professional translators always work from another language to their mother tongue only.

Source:  The content and language of the materials to be translated.

Style Guide:  A document that defines the voice, tone, direction, and overall style for the materials in a translation project. Very similar to a style guide used by a marketing department, but extended into specific language pairs. For example, the company tone may be casual, but their target market in Egypt may prefer a more formal tone.

Target:  The content and language that the materials will be translated into.

Translation Memory (TM):  Pairs of previously human translated text segments stored in a database. A segment is ordinarily, but not always, a sentence.

Word Count:  The actual number of words in the source text to be translated. The word count forms the basis to price translation work. This is distinct from words that should not be translated, and may be further divided into words that are from repetitive sentences or words from sentences matched from a translation memory.

See a more complete list here

To begin the download process for a list of these terms, click the button:

 Download 10 Industry Terms

Topics: Resources, Translation Basics

Elanex Named Top 100 Global Language Service Provider

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jul 13, 2015 6:46:08 PM


Elanex is pleased to announce that we've again been named a Top 100 Firm in Common Sense Advisory's (CSA) 2015 ranking of the largest language service providers in the world. CSA, the leading independent market research company that covers the globalization, localization, and translation industry, ranked Elanex as the 23rd largest provider of translation and localization services in North America and 88th in the US$38 Billion global market.

Congratulations to all our Elanex team members for helping us remain the leader in fast, accurate, and easy translation!

To read more about the industry report and rankings, please visit the Elanex or CSA News Releases.

Topics: Announcements

The Fastest and the Slowest Sounding Languages

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jul 2, 2015 9:57:00 PM

You might be surprised by why some languages sound faster than others. Hint: information density!


Read: The Fastest and the Slowest Sounding Languages

Topics: Infographic, Language Information

Little-Known Languages: Quechua

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jun 25, 2015 4:03:00 PM

This infographic shows the roots and characteristics of Quechua, an indigenous language spoken in several South American countries.

The English words llama and condor come from Quechua. The mother tongue of 8 to 10 million people, it is a language family that comprises three major regions in Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

Download the infographic to learn more about Quechua, the language of the ancient Incan Empire.



Click here: Quechua  





Topics: Infographic, Language Information

5 Tips for Choosing a Translation Service Provider

Posted by Donald J. Plumley, CEO on Jun 18, 2015 2:55:00 PM

Internet_dogMore than 20 years ago, cartoonist Peter Steiner created one of the most famous New Yorker cartoons of all time.  It features two dogs in an office, one sitting at a computer. The caption reads: “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”

Steiner’s cartoon is still relevant today.  With so much business conducted without meeting face to face, it’s hard to know whom you’re actually working with.   This is especially true when it comes to translation services. The barriers to entry to put up a website and market translation services are very low. On top of that, customers can rarely directly judge the quality of services, as it is unlikely they can read the finished product.

If you’re in the market for translation services, here are five things to consider before selecting a company to trust with your brand.

Can They Meet Your Needs?

Both you and your provider must be crystal clear on what you want to achieve. Website localization from English to Chinese for a consumer goods company and translation of contracts and financial records for M&A due diligence are two completely different situations and both require a knowledge-set far beyond just the languages. Ensuring that your business and project requirements are aligned with the capabilities of your translation service provider is critical to creating a long-lasting partnership.

images-1-1Should You Rely on a Test Translation?

Most translation service providers are happy to perform short test translations for potential clients as a way to demonstrate the quality of their work. Test translations, however, aren’t always the best predictor of capability or long-term translation quality. On one hand, you run the risk that the translation company will spend much more time on your test than with the real work that follows. On the other hand, a one-time test doesn’t show what a company is capable of once they have set up a customized team and process to handle your specific need.

Furthermore, since language is subjective, you should offer guidelines to translators before the test. If available, provide examples of translations in the tone and style you (or your reviewer) prefer. Prepare a glossary of key terminology. Be clear on your objectives for the test. Are you looking for a highly literal translation or one adapted to the specific market and customer?

Given a one-shot opportunity to impress, it should not be a surprise that the translator carefully selected to perform the test may not be on the team that ultimately does the work. Instead, ask about the linguists who will be assigned to your project. Are they subject-matter experts or are they just generalists? What kind of processes and checks does the company use to insure a consistent level of quality and performance? What happens if the volume is much larger than one translator can handle alone?

Does the Company Have a Quality Control Process?

Since the quality of a translation can be highly subjective, there are techniques a company can use to consistently meet your expectations. Will they use a glossary and style guide?  How are translators selected and evaluated? Will an editor (a qualified linguist) review each sentence of each document or are they just proofreading or spot-checking? Do they stand behind their work with a warranty?


It is a rare situation where cost is not carefully scrutinized. Given that there is surprising variability in prices for translation services, does a low price mean good value or low quality? The unit of pricing is typically by the source word. This price is dependent upon the process, the skills of the translators and editors – the price is higher for complex or unusual subjects – and the amount of additional services required. With pricing that is “too good to be true,” the maxim caveat emptor applies. Regardless of price, make sure that the quote is fully inclusive. Does it include a separate editorial review process? Project management time? What about the time to format the final document or review the webpage in final form to make sure the translated text displays properly? If the price is really low, are they using machine translation and asking a translator to fix only the egregious errors?

Speed and Ease of Translation

Meeting deadlines is a principal concern for companies and should be one of the main areas of discussion with any potential translation provider. It is fundamental for translators to translate efficiently, reliably and on-time. A timeframe for completion should be clearly agreed at the very beginning of any project.

In summary, finding the right translation provider and a capable team of linguists that can reliably deliver high-quality translation can be a daunting task. By considering the tips mentioned above, your company will soon be on the right track to build partnership with the right translation service firm that can meet and exceed your company’s needs and goals. 


Topics: Best Business Practices, Translation Basics

Need to Translate Something?

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jun 16, 2015 9:43:00 AM


Our project managers have listed six tips to help ensure a smooth translation project. From translation newbie to veteran, we hope you find these useful.

Please click on the button below to download this handy list.

Download Now



Topics: Infographic, Resources, Translation Basics

What Are the Hardest Languages to Learn?

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jun 11, 2015 12:24:00 PM

This infographic presents a scale ranging from easiest to hardest of languages to learn for English speakers.

Did you know that you could learn a new language in as few as 575 hours, depending on several factors? More complex languages can take significantly longer to master - up to two years.

What do you think? Do you agree? Download the infographic and let us know your thoughts.


Click here: The Hardest Languages to Learn



Topics: Infographic, Language Information

Elanex and Cloudwords Announce Partnership Agreement

Posted by Elanex Marketing Team on Jun 3, 2015 11:32:00 AM

Integrates Cloudwords translation management services into their professional services portfolio

San Francisco, CA - June 3, 2015 – Elanex, the world leader in fast and accurate translation, today announced they have entered into a strategic partnership with Cloudwords, a leader in cloud-based translation management and automation. Cloudwords is a solutions provider that offers its clients best of class localization workflow management and direct integrations with various demand-generation marketing tools, web CMS and other systems to significantly cut down on the time and costs associated with deploying multilingual marketing campaigns.

"We have been following Cloudwords, but it was actually one of our clients that suggested we formalize our relationship," said Donald Plumley, CEO of Elanex, Inc. "They were selecting Cloudwords to help them cloudwords-logo-featuremanage their content, but wanted to confirm they could retain the trusted translation relationship with Elanex. We developed processes to make the workflow between Cloudwords and our own automated production platform seamless – and are now pleased to announce our partnership so we can offer our services to a broader range of clients that can benefit from Cloudwords technologies.”

"From start to finish, we believe the translation process should be as efficient and pain-free as possible," said Scott Yancey, CEO of Cloudwords. "Our partnership with Elanex provides the essential link for our customers to proven, high-quality translation services. We particularly appreciate their philosophy for translation automation as it is very similar to ours."

“With customers ranging from the Global 1000 to VC-funded startups,” continued Mr. Plumley, “we see a broad set of challenges managing content for translation. What is consistent among all is dramatic time-compression to meet growing market demands. For marketing materials and technical documentation alike, by combining the best subject matter expert translators with our technology platform we are delivering fast and accurate translation for agile development and other time-sensitive needs. Through our partnership with Cloudwords, our customers can now benefit from more efficient management of their internal processes to reach their global customers even faster,” he concluded. 


About Cloudwords

Cloudwords accelerates content globalization at scale, dramatically reducing the cost, complexity and turnaround time required for the localization of all marketing content. Cloudwords' enterprise-ready cloud-based software enables organizations to go global faster, engage multilingual audiences more efficiently, and generate increased demand and revenue in less time. Delivering strategic integration capabilities for all leading marketing automation and content management systems, Cloudwords is an integral partner in the localization process for Fortune 500 and Global 2000 companies worldwide, including Honeywell, Marketo, McDonald's, Siemens, and Verisign. Headquartered in San Francisco, Cloudwords is backed by Storm Ventures and Cloud computing visionaries such as Marc Benioff, founder of salesforce.com. Visit www.cloudwords.com for more information and join the global conversation on Twitter @CloudwordsInc.





Topics: Announcements

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