As part of drug and device companies' efforts streamline translations, machine-translation and translation-memory technologies deserve particular attention. While these technologies will not completely eliminate the need for the human translation and localization support, they are appropriate in some instances.
Following is a brief overview of the two technologies and an assessment of their usefulness to medical device and pharmaceutical companies.
Translation memory (TM)
TM software is designed to enhance the human translation effort. The software stores matching source and target language segments that were translated by translator in a database for future reuse. As the translation effort progresses, the translation memory grows. Newly encountered segments are compared to the database content, and the resulting output (exact, fuzzy or no match) is reviewed and completed by the translator.
Machine translation (MT)
MT software aims to replace the human translator. The algorithm analyzes the grammar and syntax of source segments according to previously defined rules. It then queries a dictionary to produce a translated segment without human intervention. MT output is generally not good enough to be published without extensive human post-editing.
The primary reasons for implementing either technology are speed, cost savings, and consistency:
- Speed - Machine translation and, to a lesser extent, translation-memory technology can significantly reduce the time required to translate large volumes of text.
- Cost savings - By reducing the need for human involvement, both technologies can reduce overall translation costs from 5 to 50%.
- Consistency - Because the systems draw on pretranslated dictionaries and databases, respectively, both technologies allow for significant gains in translation consistency.
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