Best Thesis - 2006

Julian Wallis

-Interactive Translation vs Pre-translation in the Context of Translation Memory Systems: Investigating the effects of translation method on productivity, quality and translator satisfaction


Translation Memory (TM) systems are currently among the most popular translation tools available on the market. Clients today are looking for productivity and quality, but at the same time are looking to reduce costs. A TM stores portions of previously translated texts in a database so that they can be reused in new texts. 

There are two ways of working with a TM: interactive mode and pre-translation mode.  In interactive mode, the TM system offers proposals to the translator, who can choose to accept and adapt them, or refuse them and translate from scratch.  In pre-translation mode, the TM system’s proposals are automatically inserted into the new source text, producing a hybrid text containing a mixture of source and target language elements. The translator’s job is then to verify the translation of the automatically replaced portions of text, as well as to translate any text that was left in the source language.

As the demand for translation continues to rise, more and more translators are looking to TMs to help increase productivity; however, for a variety of reasons, such as cost and incompatible file formats, they do not always have access to a useful TM.  Therefore, translators need access to the TM database of the client they are working for in order to complete their translations.  However, clients are increasingly hesitant to give out their databases due to proprietary issues.  For this reason, many clients are turning to the pre-translation option so that they can get their translations done without having to give out their TM databases.  To date, however, no one has yet studied whether the choice of pre-translation vs interactive translation has an effect on productivity, quality and translator satisfaction. This thesis aims to go some way towards filling this gap by designing and testing a methodology to compare these two methods of working with a TM system.

The thesis is divided into three main parts.  Part I provides background information on TMs through a literature survey, the findings of which form the basis for three hypotheses concerning the ways in which interactive and pre-translation will impact translation productivity and quality, as well as translator satisfaction.  Part II describes an experiment that was designed and conducted to investigate these hypotheses.  Finally, Part III evaluates the research carried out in this thesis and suggests possible ways to expand it in the future.