14 July 2015

TJ vs TW and their translation

A quotable quote from the 250th issue of A computer journal for translation professionals:
We've discussed translation memory-based authoring a good number of times here and elsewhere. From our perspective as translators, it's a no-brainer: If technical authors used translation memories and termbases as they write in the same way translators do, not only would the documentation they produce be more consistent, there would be a much greater number of matches when it comes to the translation phase. After all, many of the authoring choices would be based on matches in existing translation memories, which in turn would turn into matches again when it comes to the new translation pass.
As far as I know, only two companies offer TM-based authoring products today: Across with its crossAuthor and -- now I finally come to where I was going the whole time -- Star with its MindReader.
Technical journalism is, of course, different. Whereas "write once, use often" and terminological consistency are hallmarks of technical writing, both are often anathema to technical journalists. While this is understandable in the case of TJ for hardcopy publications, some areas of corporate technical communication should perhaps be revisited. There are savings to be made and there is time to be gained wherever technical journalism methods can be productively replaced by technical writing (TW) methods, particularly in the case of documents destined for translation.

More generally, it seems to me that the workflows and production methodologies of corporate communications could benefit from more high-level review than they do from the quick-fix and quick-savings strategies applied by purchasing officers with limited understanding of how word workers do their jobs.

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