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The translation industry was one of the first industries to undergo digital transformation. In the early 1990s, translators and translation companies began to use translation memories – i.e. databases in which they stored translations. With each new translation, they first looked at the translation memory and used any existing translations in order to reduce the total cost for the client.
This technology has completely transformed the industry: a value chain of translation companies and individual linguists has emerged from a rather unconnected community of individual freelance translators, working together to meet the translation needs of their clients.
The effect of the digital transformation has been particularly strong in the field of technical documentation translation, which includes instructions, manuals and other documents that make it easier for the user to use the product. One such example is the automotive industry where drivers and riders need high-quality instructions, as the use of a vehicle is demanding, and any poor translations can have serious consequences for vehicle dealers. Therefore, a well-established process of translating the instructions and other documentation has been developed in the automotive industry over the years in order to ensure high quality and accurate translations.
New technologies on the horizon
The translation memories are more than 20 years old, and during this time several new language technologies have emerged, such as:
These can be easily integrated into established translation processes to reduce costs and shorten translation time – without the risk of lower quality. Let’s take a look at them!
In the recent years, there has been a remarkable development of machine translation algorithms. With the transition to neural network systems, the quality has extensively improved and many translators today use a machine translation algorithm on a daily basis.
It is important to know that the machine translator does not replace the human translator, but helps him or her to work faster – in some cases even at double speed.
Extraction and automatic checking of terminology
With algorithms for terminology extraction, we can find standard technical terms in the text before starting the translation and consult with relevant experts about their translation. If we have a text with a similar topic in the target language, we can also align the terms between languages and thus save the translator time to search for correct translations of technical terms.
Furthermore, automatic terminology checking tools ensure that terms are used consistently throughout the entire translation. This is especially important for large projects where several translators translate the same document at the same time. In such cases, we can save time for review by automatically verifying terminological consistency.
Translation memory 2.0
Translation memories have also evolved since their inception more than 20 years ago. The basic technology has remained the same, but new features have been added, such as automatic number switching, non-translatable segment recognition and partial segment matching. All this allows translators to do more work in the same amount of time.
What does this mean for automotive translation processes?
With the smart use of the latest language technologies, we can speed up and adapt the translation processes in the automotive industry to reduce the final cost for the client. Let’s look at an example:
Aikwit translated 964 translation pages for a Slovenian importer of an established car brand in one year. With smart use of modern language technologies, we reduced costs by 61% and shortened translation time by 33%. From a starting price of EUR 20 per page, we achieved an effective price per page of just under EUR 9!
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