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Translation Memory Data Sharing: What's Next?
Posted by Donald A. DePalma, Renato S. Beninatto on June 26, 2008  in the following blogs: Business Globalization, Translation and Localization, Technology, Market Data, Best Practices
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Major high-tech suppliers like Adobe, Autodesk, Cisco, EMC, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, PTC, and Sun Microsystems have signed on to support the TAUS Data Association (TDA). TAUS, the Translation Automation User Society, launched its data sharing initiative a little more than a year ago. At the end of June, the TDA will formally incorporate in Amsterdam with its charter members (34 are currently signed up). The TDA aims to "establish a secure and legitimate platform for storing, sharing and leveraging language data; access to large volumes of trusted language data for increased translation efficiency and quality; industry collaboration to harmonize multilingual terminology." We recently spoke with TAUS founder and presumptive TDA director Jaap van der Meer, who updated us on progress since the effort took flight in March 2007.
  • Free language search. Van der Meer told us that the first offering of the TDA initiative will be a language search website. Anyone will be able to make free rifle-shot queries for words, phrases, or terms. Access will be through a TDA-supported portal that will not be indexed by Google or other search engines. In the future, TDA members will be able to develop other interfaces using an application programming interface.
  • Reciprocity for bulk use. TDA members can sign up for a Data Provider and Pooling membership. They will be able to use the repository for bulk applications, such as input to statistical machine translation and linguistic analysis. "Reciprocity" is the keyword here -- TDA charter signers are adamant that you cannot take if you do not give. Van Der Meer told us that if you give 5 million words, you can take 5 million words. If you need more, you pay the loaded cost of transferring the words -- around €100 for a million words. Charter TDA members including Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, and Sun have already committed their translation memories to the effort. The minimum cost for such use is €2,500 to join (€1,000 before 30 August 2008), an annual contribution of €2,500, and the donation of words.
  • Future projects. The TDA will consider adding features such as a dictionary management interface, tagging and community scoring for collaborative translation, and a web services API for making programmatic use of the TDA platform. Logistically speaking, the next steps for the TDA are to prototype the system through the end of the year, sign contracts for data donations and for hosting the data warehouse, and build toward a roll-out in January 2009.
We think that the TDA is a substantive advance beyond the Translation Memory Marketplace, but it is not yet a done deal. For one thing, many LSPs remain on the fence, concerned that the sole reason for this initiative is to cut into their business. On the other hand, LSPs such as Jonckers, VistaTEC, and Welocalize have signed on. On the corporate side, many companies remain wary about sharing their linguistic assets. However, we think that the new generation of localization managers -- not tied to old ideas about the ownership and the value of translation memories -- will be inclined to participate. Efforts like the TDA, TinyTM, and TMOSS combined with the Moses MT project will make the notion of openly accessible translation memories (and tools) the rule rather than the exception.


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Keywords: Crowdsourced translation, Translation memory, Translation technologies

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