What Is Continuous Translation and How to Implement It in 5 Steps

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Written by

Adedamola Ojedokun

Every time your product gets new features, your website needs to be updated.

Updated and translated. Over and over again.

The most effective way to handle the regular changes to the source content is through continuous translation.

What is continuous translation?

In short, it’s precisely what it sounds like.

Continuous translation is the process of continuous translation management with the help of software.

Let’s examine continuous translation in detail.

Keep reading to learn:

Pro tip: Facilitate seamless continuous translation by using a professional localization management suite – Centus. Learn more.

What Is Continuous Translation?

definition of continuous translation

Continuous translation, also referred to as continuous localization, is the process of simultaneously managing content translation and localization through software.

Unlike traditional translation methods that tackle translation as a separate, one-time task, continuous translation recognizes the need for ongoing translation support throughout all stages of creating and disseminating content.

Continuous Translation vs Agile Translation

continuous translation vs agile translation

Agile translation is an iterative translation process where large translation projects are divided into smaller, manageable tasks. It encourages collaboration between the localization team and other departments, adaptation, and responsiveness to change.

Agile translation is beneficial in a dynamic environment with continuously changing content and tight deadlines.

definition of agile translation

Although continuous translation and agile translation have certain similarities in their iterative approaches, they differ in several ways.

Integration and automation

Continuous translation integrates translation into the content creation or development process as seamlessly as possible.

Continuous translation uses automation approaches to keep translations up-to-date in real-time when changes are made to the source content.

Agile translation focuses on integration as well, but its main goal is to break down translation tasks into smaller iterations. Each iteration entails working with translators to prioritize and complete translations within shorter timeframes.

While automation can be used in agile translation, it is not as prevalent as in continuous translation.

Timeframe and iterations

Continuous translation works on an ongoing basis, with translations updated in real-time when changes in the original content occur. It does not adhere to an iteration-based structure because the purpose is to keep translations constantly aligned with evolving content.

This method is appropriate for tasks where synchronization and immediacy between the source and translated content are crucial.

Agile translation works in shorter iterations, usually in line with the principles of agile software development processes. Each cycle includes a unique set of translation jobs, which are usually prioritized based on the most urgent or critical information.

This approach is appropriate for projects that require flexibility, regular updates, and responses to changing requirements.

Focus and priorities

Continuous translation focuses on consistency and accuracy throughout the translation process. By incorporating translation early in the content creation or development process, translations are kept up-to-date with the most recent changes in the source content.

This strategy lessens potential inconsistencies or errors brought about by a fragmented translation process.

Agile translation, on the other hand, prioritizes adaptability and responsiveness to changing requirements. It focuses on breaking down translation tasks into units that can be easily managed.

The agile approach to translation fosters flexibility by adjusting priorities and accommodating evolving content requirements.

Continuous Translation Technology

Continuous translation relies on automation to expedite the translation process, resulting in efficient and high-quality translations.

Here are two main technologies that are crucial to continuous translation:

Translation memory (TM)

Translation memory is a database that contains previously translated text units. During translation, the system searches the TM for previously-translated matches, thereby saving time and effort.

Translation memory not only boosts efficiency but also ensures consistency between translations, which is important in projects with recurrent content or repeating phrases.

Neural machine translation (NMT)

Neural Machine Translation is a cutting-edge translation system that generates translations using artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms.

NMT models, as opposed to traditional rule-based or statistical machine translation methods, discover patterns and language structures from massive volumes of training data.

Deep learning allows NMT systems to produce more accurate translations that are similar to human translation. They can even be trained with domain-specific terminology for niche translation.

Now, let’s look at how a continuous localization process can improve your workflow, ultimately enhancing translation quality.

Benefits of Continuous Translation

benefits of continuous translation

You can boost your productivity, improve quality, and save money by using continuous translation practices and leveraging the right technology.

Let’s examine the benefits of continuous translation more closely:

Enhanced efficiency and productivity

Continuous translation improves the translation workflow by automating repetitive operations and reducing manual effort. The use of translation memory and neural machine translation (NMT) enables translators to operate more quickly and efficiently.

These technologies speed up the translation workflow, resulting in higher productivity and a shorter time-to-market.

Consistency in translations

Consistency plays a key role in maintaining brand identity and conveying a unified message across different platforms and languages. Continuous translation leverages translation memory and glossaries to ensure consistency.

You can retain brand consistency and also ensure high-quality translations by using continuous translation.

Cost reduction and time savings

Continuous translation can significantly reduce translation costs and time to market. By using translation memory and neural machine translation, you can reuse translated content, thereby eliminating the need to translate the same units of content repeatedly. This not only saves time but also money by reducing unnecessary translations.

Furthermore, continuous translation allows you to respond swiftly to market demands, allowing you to provide translated content more quickly and achieve a competitive advantage.

Improved quality and accuracy

Continuous translation technologies, such as NMT, have considerably increased translation quality and accuracy. NMT models are trained on massive volumes of data in multiple languages, allowing them to provide more fluent and context-relevant translations.

While NMT provides a good foundation, human translators are critical to refining and ensuring translation accuracy.

Continuous translation combines the benefits of human skill and machine assistance to produce high-quality translations that align with the specific requirements and nuances of each target language.

How to Implement Continuous Translation in 5 Steps

how to implement continuous translation

Implementing a continuous approach to your translation workflows can increase the efficiency, consistency, and overall quality of your translation process. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Assess translation needs and requirements

  • Identify the content (such as website updates, marketing materials, customer support documentation, or product descriptions) that needs to be translated.

  • Determine the languages involved in the translation and the target audience for each language.

  • Determine the volume and frequency of translation that you need.

  • Analyze any terminology, style, or tone requirements for each translation.

Step 2: Choose the right translation tools and technologies

  • Research and analyze the different translation tools and technologies on the market.

  • Consider factors such as cost, ease of use, integration capabilities, and scalability.

  • Look for tools that enable continuous translation operations, such as the enterprise version of Google Translate, translation management systems, content management systems, or application programming interfaces.

  • Ensure the tools you choose have features like translation memory, glossaries, and collaboration capabilities.

Step 3: Implement continuous translation practices

  • Create a central repository for all source content to be translated (such as a Content Management System or a Translation Management System) and use it to implement continuous translation processes.

  • Create a continuous localization workflow that includes steps such as content development, translation, review, and publication.

  • Integrate translation tools with your content production and publishing platforms to ensure seamless translation updates.

  • Automate content extraction, translation initiation, and delivery processes.

  • Define the roles and duties of translators, reviewers, and project managers that are involved in the process.

Step 4: Train and collaborate with translators

  • Identify and onboard professional translators who are fluent in the target languages and have subject-matter expertise to train and collaborate with.

  • Provide clear rules, style guides, and glossaries to translators to ensure consistent and accurate translations.

  • Organize training sessions for translators to understand the translation tools and technology that you chose.

  • Set up regular communication channels to answer questions, clarify issues, and foster collaboration throughout the process.

  • Encourage translators to provide feedback and suggestions for improving the continuous translation methods.

Step 5: Monitor and continuously improve the process

  • Continuously improve the process by regularly checking the translated content for quality assurance, linguistic accuracy, and adherence to brand requirements.

  • Gather input from the target audience to identify areas that can be improved.

  • Track translation parameters such as turnaround time, cost, and quality to assess the efficiency of the continuous translation process.

  • Constantly update and improve the translation memory and glossaries based on feedback and new content.

  • Stay up-to-date on translation technology improvements and look for ways to improve the process.

Note that the implementation of continuous translation may vary depending on your specific needs and resources.

The steps outlined above give a general idea of what you can use to implement continuous translation techniques. You may need to adapt the steps to align with your specific needs in each situation.

Limitations of Continuous Translation

limitations of continuous translation

Although continuous translation has several benefits, it is not without limitations. As this dynamic approach to translation evolves, it is crucial to address its main limitations:

Linguistic nuances

Continuous translation systems may struggle to capture the nuances and cultural contexts of a language, thereby leading to misinterpretations or inaccuracies.

Technical challenges

Despite advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, continuous translation systems may struggle when confronted with specialized areas that require deep domain knowledge or experience.

Dependency on server connection

Continuous translation usually relies on real-time communication and server access. The effectiveness and availability of continuous translation may be jeopardized in places with limited or unreliable server access.

Idiomatic expressions and cultural references

Idiomatic expressions and cultural references are common in languages and might be difficult to translate directly. Continuous translation algorithms might miss these nuances, resulting in translations that lack the desired cultural connotations.

How to Balance Automation with Human Expertise in Continuous Translation

Balancing automation with human expertise in continuous translation requires a thoughtful approach to maximize the benefits of both and ensure the highest quality of translations. Here are some strategies to achieve this balance:

Human oversight and intervention

While automated solutions improve efficiency, human expertise is still required to ensure translation accuracy, cultural appropriateness, and context-specific understanding of translations. Human oversight and intervention can help address issues and maintain quality.

Trust and reliability

Continuous translation systems should build trust and reliability among users. Setting up clear channels for user input, responding quickly to issues, and adopting user preferences can all contribute to a more trustworthy and reliable translation experience.

Human intervention for context and cultural understanding

While machine translation can be efficient, human translators have cultural expertise, contextual awareness, and the ability to convey idiomatic expressions, humor, or emotions appropriately. By integrating human expertise, translations can be culturally acceptable and convey the intended meaning.

User feedback and customization

Human translators can interact with users, learn about their preferences, and use their feedback to improve the translation process. This human touch enhances adaptability, customization, and a personalized approach to meet the varying needs and preferences of users.

To Sum Up

Continuous translation is transforming language localization and global communication. It offers a streamlined and effective approach to translation, thereby allowing you to easily reach global markets.

This form of translation uses technologies like translation memory and neural machine translation to offer several benefits, including higher productivity, consistent translations, cost savings, and improved quality.

Optimize your workflows, enhance productivity, and ensure high-quality translations in your continuous translation process by using localization management tools like Centus. Learn more.


What is the difference between continuous translation and agile translation?

Continuous translation is an integrated translation process that uses technology and automation to carry out translations efficiently and consistently.

Agile translation, on the other hand, is a project management technique that emphasizes flexibility and collaboration while permitting incremental translation revisions.

Are there any limitations to continuous translation?

Yes, there are several limitations to continuous translation:

  • Automated translation technologies may not always capture the nuances and context-specific requirements of certain texts.

  • Human input and knowledge are still required to achieve the highest level of quality and accuracy in translations.

How long does it take to implement continuous translation in a workflow?

Several factors affect how long it takes to implement continuous translation. These include:

  • Size and complexity of your translation needs

  • Availability of suitable translation tools

  • Level of collaboration and training required

Can continuous translation be applied to all languages?

Yes, you can apply continuous translation to any language pair. The efficiency of automated translation methods varies depending on the language pair.

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