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Originally written
February 6, 2019
November 6, 2020

WPML’s Advanced Translation Editor and most professional translation services use a translation memory. This saves translations and prevents you from needing to translate the same content again.

If you make a change to the default language content after a page has been translated, WPML will indicate that the translation needs to be updated. The translations you need to update will depend on the original method you used to generate the translation.

If your content needs to be retranslated according to the table below, you can view the previous translations in the Advanced Translation Editor. This allows you to copy and paste the translations into the appropriate translation fields as opposed to translating from scratch.
Original translation method What needs to be retranslated if you use the Advanced Translation Editor
WordPress editor or a page builder (manual translation) The entire page needs to be retranslated.
WPML’s Classic Translation Editor The page body has to be retranslated. Strings and short segments do not need to be retranslated because they are saved by WPML.
WPML’s Advanced Translation Editor The Advanced Translation Editor’s translation memory will automatically keep the original translations. Only edited sentences need to be retranslated.
Professional translation service Because WPML does not share the translation service’s translation memory, the surest way to keep your translations is to resubmit content to the original translation service for updates. Most often, they will be able to identify only the parts that need to be translated based on their own translation memory.

If you are making a small change, you can update the translation yourself using the Classic Translation Editor. These changes will need to be retranslated by the translation service if you ever submit the content to them for updating.

If you would like to use the Advanced Translation Editor for updates, you will need to retranslate the page body.

In all cases, if you switch to a new translation service, the new service will need to retranslate the entire page in order to form their own translation memory.

Advanced Translation Editor only keeps track of translations in one “direction”

The Advanced Translation Editor compares the translations to the content in the default language. If you change the original content, WPML will “remember” the translations of the unchanged sentences. This means you will only need to translate the new content.

Changing the translation method

You might decide to change the translation method back to Classic Translation Editor or even WordPress editor. In this case, again, all edits done directly on translations will be lost. All edits done on the original page will have to be retranslated.