Translation Guy Blog
It’s the item bank, stupid.
If I got your attention, I apologize for my rude lede. But that’s what it takes on the Internet these days, for crying out loud.
I’m just trying to find an exciting way to state the obvious, which is that the heart and soul of any test development practice is the item bank. Translators are no different except we have translation memory instead of item banks. Really they’re almost the same, or rather they serve the same function. They are the sum of knowledge, the repository of all our work. But when translators put testing industry item banks into their translation memories it starts to sound a lot like making sausage. So again, apologies.
We take those word strings and slice and dice them to find repeated phrases. Then we try to use them over again – in fact every time they pop up in a client’s translation. Humans check to make sure the phrase fits right every time it pops up, but we get a lot of usage out of every phrase we translate, and the more we do, the more money our clients save.
With a testing item bank, once that question has made too many rounds it becomes useless, but not so in translation. We use fuzzy matches, which is kind of like Hamburger Helper for translation memory repetition so that we can pile on even more phrases in order to translate more freely for our clients. Good heavens! Don’t try that with your item bank! But that method works just fine with the stacks of short phrases we assemble for each one of our clients.
The translation behind the translation memory did not come easy. It’s the joint effort of dozens of linguists and subject matter experts who spend a lot of time making those translations just so. It’s further value added on an already valuable property when we’re translating test items. That’s one of the reasons why security is doubly important for translating testing instruments. Keeping translated memory and translated content secure in the face of aggressive international cheating cultures is no joke. Especially when you consider that most professional translators are working at home on unsecured equipment. Most translation services pull together ad hoc teams of contract workers from around the world, sending unsecure attachments around the world to unvetted translators who can forward their translations on to cheaters simply by pressing the forward button on their Gmail.
That is not how we do it. Client content never leaves our secure servers, where our eagle-eyed IT security can keep it safe. No ad hoc translators either. We’ve been doing this for 20 years and keep a close eye on our translation partners, particularly the newbies.
If you want to learn more about how we protect your item bank, give me a call at 1-800-Translate. (That’s 1-800-872-6752. Ken is at extension 208.)