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Fear & Loathing in the Editing Room, pt. 1 (or: Translation Memories vs. Projects vs. Term Bases vs. Godzilla vs. Broken coffee machine)

“People engage in conversation, for it is there that news is communicated […] A molla will stand up in the middle […] and begin to preach in a loud voice, or a dervish enters all of a sudden, and chastises the assembled on the vanity of the world and its material goods. It often happens that two or three people talk at the same time, one on one side, the other on the opposite, and sometimes one will be a preacher and the other a storyteller.”

That was Jean Chardin, a French traveler and writer somewhere in the 17th century, describing the happenings in a coffeehouse, which were still something of a novelty at the time.

The invention of the coffeehouse was an important event in the evolution of humans; the evolution of ideas and how the world changed because of those ideas. People since forever have always gotten together, had something to drink, and had a bit of a chat about stuff. But a few hundred years ago that something to drink was most probably always alcohol, since it was safer to drink than whatever common water was around. But when coffee finally came around and popularized by the setting up of coffeehouses, people started changing. Caffeine surging through the brain, flowing free-form conversations, ideas sparking about every which way. It was easier to sharpen, focus and hone in on ideas, concepts, topics.

And now, let me preach:

As discussed earlier, we had the philosopher Heraclitus, and his idea that the universe is in a constant state of flux, constantly flowing, moving, changing. Just as the word, language in general (& machine translations thereof), is also constantly flowing, moving, changing.

Now, can you dig this:

Translation Memories and Term Bases as an evolving memory bank, alive and changing, just as humans, languages, and the times, also change.

But when are those TMs and TBs sacred logos and when are they not? And when are those changes just someone vandalizing the hieroglyphs, and when is it a personal pedantic power trip over words. Or when is it simply Godzilla rampaging through your memory banks, tearing down what you believed to be acceptable translations, respecting industry and/or area-specific and/or client standards?

This post was written intended to raise more questions rather than answering them. You let me know, I’ll be by the coffee machine.

And as you’re forming opinions and arguments towards questions raised here, about what’s right and what’s not, and what’s good and what’s what, here’s this sci-fi author Philip K. Dick talking about our friends, the pre-Socratics:

“The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Parmenides taught that the only things that are real are things which never change…and the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus taught that everything changes. If you superimpose their two views, you get this result: Nothing is real.”


If you’d like a more pragmatic scope on how we use translation memories and term bases to provide you with a high quality translation service, feel free to contact one of our Sales Representatives by clicking on