4 Things Your Translation Provider Can Do With Legacy Translations

First of all, we’ll need to define what a legacy translation really is. A legacy translation can be defined as a translation done by a previous provider (not your current agency). This can be done by a previous agency or an internal company resource.

Legacy translations come into play when a company no longer wishes to work with its provider and is choosing a new provider. The company does not want to start from scratch and wants to get some usage out of their previous translations. This is definitely a move for a savvy buyer, as starting from scratch would greatly impact cost and timeline on future projects.

Your new provider can do a multitude of things with legacy translations. However, what they can do is dependent on what you provide to them. In this post, we will explore four of the most common scenarios that we see when asked about legacy translations.

TMX Upload

This is the ideal situation for a new provider when asked to handle legacy translations. A .tmx file is the industry standard file type for Translation Memory. This scenario is the most efficient and most cost-effective solution to input legacy translations into Translation Memory. If the new provider is given a .tmx file, it can be as simple as uploading that file into the Translation Management System. Then, the new provider has your Translation Memory immediately.

Keep in mind, that this can be a red flag to your previous provider. If you ask for your .tmx out of the blue, they may see the writing on the wall that you are changing providers. Since they have control of your .tmx, there is room for tampering. Thankfully, there are a couple of ways around this:

1) Ask for your .tmx at a regular interval (either yearly, quarterly, or by project)

2) Work with Argo Translation! Here at Argo Translation, we want to work with you because you want to work with us. We will never hold your Translation Memory hostage and will provide it when requested. In our opinion, you have paid for the translations, so the Translation Memory is your property.


If the new provider does not have the opportunity to receive a .tmx from the customer, they can take the existing source files and translated files (depending on the format), and run what is called an alignment. An alignment is a manual process where a linguist will take each segment (sentence) of the source and align it to the target translation. They can then output a .tmx as a result of that process.

There are a couple of caveats to this process. The first tricky area is the file type. For instance, an alignment in Word or InDesign might be pretty easy. However, trying to align PDFs, or more complex file types may not work. A basic rule of thumb is that the simpler the file type, the easier it is to align.


This route comes into play if a .tmx is not available, and the budget prohibits an alignment. In this case, nothing goes into your Translation Memory, but our linguists can utilize the existing translations as reference. They will then do their best to maintain consistency with the legacy translations.


This should be an option if you are unhappy with your previous provider in terms of translation quality. You by no means have to utilize past translations if you don’t want to. If possible, we always want to use existing Translation Memory, but we certainly do not have to.

There are plenty of options for what a provider can do in terms of legacy translations. In the alignment and .tmx upload scenarios, we can build a Translation Memory for you. In the other two scenarios, we won’t get any Translation Memory, but that can be your choice as the buyer. One thing to note if you choose to have your current provider build the TM – you may see TM degradation (the TM may not be as strong as you’d like it). This is because every Translation Management System is different, and tags, segmentation, etc., may be slightly different when changing systems. If possible, the .tmx route is the best.

Curious how Argo Translation can help implement your legacy translations? Contact us today for more information.


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