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Translation memories: Are you a master in the art of quilting?

Let’s get something straight, translation memories are here to stay! Be that as it may, this should not prevent us from enjoying what we do, being in a good mood (as much as possible), expressing our inquisitive nature, and being thorough in our work.

The danger in all this is to start translating as a machine does. When this happens, we suddenly start to feel as if the roles have been reversed and that we are everlastingly subject to the demands of the market to use specific software and applications.

In other words, we start having the impression that it’s the other way around; that translation mainly consists of a machine’s work which requires the mere assistance of humans.

Translation memories do the initial work by trimming the edges. It’s not always classy, but we must make do with it anyways. Although we are still as famished when it comes to learning new words and expressions, as is the case with most humans, we must still develop new mechanisms that will allow us to pinpoint the actual words we’re looking for in the segments to be translated and not focus on the terms that are already out there, part of the segments that have already been translated. Don’t forget that deadlines are shorter and clients are in more of a hurry to get things done!

When comes the time to sew everything together, that’s when you need to go back to those segments that have already been translated (commonly referred to as “fuzzy words”) and be extra careful in your quilting technique. Are you working on an informative text? If such is the case, a little patchwork is required: you will need discipline, structure, and accuracy. Are you working on an argumentative essay? A more artistic approach may be in order here so as to wind up with a composite work that highlights the arguments put forth by the author.

Threading the needle one might say? That’s just how our memory works: it takes various pieces of information to come up with the big picture. It’s our memory that shows us what the quilt will look like in the end. Relentless in its quest, it takes five or seven segments of information and compares them to find how they will be sown back together, ever more artistically. Plus, it’s never rough around the edges.

However, first and foremost, you definitely need to avoid crazy quilt patterns: random stitches bordering on anarchy. Your translation would be meaningless and look like a quilt with no actual thread to pull from.

Have fun!

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