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There can be many reasons why translations may disappear or go missing. The simplest and most common cause is not following a consistent translation workflow.

WPML offers a robust translation memory feature, but it does not work across different translation methods. If you switch between different options on the same page or post, you may overwrite or lose your translations, and you will need to re-translate your content.

We recommend choosing one of the following translation methods and sticking with it:

Other translation methods:

  • Classic Translation Editor – only for pages and posts that have already been translated using the Classic Translation Editor.
  • Manual Translation in the WordPress Editor – only for clients with WPML Multilingual Blog accounts, clients who want completely different page designs in different languages, or clients using plugins that require this translation method.

Fixing issues caused by not following the correct translation workflow

If you used multiple translation methods and are now missing the translations on your site’s front-end:

  1. Permanently delete the pages or posts in the secondary languages
  2. Re-translate them using your preferred method.
  3. Then, continue using that same method anytime you need to update your translations.

Translation Memory FAQs

I already translated my content using a professional translation service or the Classic Translation Editor. Can I switch to the Advanced Translation Editor and access my existing translations?

If you recently switched to using the Advanced Translation Editor from using a different translation method, you will need to retranslate some of your content when you make updates.

Because the original translations were created by a different translation method, they are not saved in a translation memory that the Advanced Translation Editor can use. The content you need to retranslate will depend on the original method you used to generate the translation. Please see the following table for more:

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 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 WPML does not share the translation service’s translation memory. Therefore, the only way to keep your translations is to keep using 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. Please note, 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.

I already translated my content using the Advanced Translation Editor or Classic Translation Editor. Can a professional translation service use my existing translations?

No. 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.

Does translation memory update the default language content if I manually change the translation?

No. WPML does not “see” translations that have been manually edited using the WordPress editor or a page builder. If you edit the translations later using the Advanced Translation Editor, the manual translations will be overwritten and lost.

Why does my translation disappear from the Advanced Translation Editor when I update my default content?

If you translate a segment with the Advanced Translation Editor then change the content in the default language, it may seem like the previous translation is missing when you go to update the translations.

This is expected behavior and happens when the default language content has been altered too much for the translation memory to apply a saved translation. Instead, it is considered a new segment that needs to be translated for the first time.

In the example below, we previously translated the segment, “John has a cat and a dog,” then updated the default content to read, “John has a dog and a cat.” When we go to update the translation, the previous translation does not appear. This is because the translation memory is not able to recognize the updated sentence and is therefore unable to apply any saved translation.

Translation memory does not recognize the updated segment and treats it as a new segment that needs a translation
Translation memory does not recognize the updated segment and treats it as a new segment that needs a translation

Automatic translation and Translate Everything mode require perfect matches to apply saved translations. In some other cases, however, translation memory can recognize some sentences with minor differences, like a single word or styling change. See the examples below:

Translation memory applies a saved translation that is different by one word Translation memory applies a saved translation that is different in styling
Translation memory applies a saved translation that is different by one word Translation memory applies a saved translation that is different in styling

If the translation memory does not recognize a segment, you will need to translate it as new.

What happens if I switch from using the Advanced Translation Editor to using a different translation method?

If you decide to change the translation method back to Classic Translation Editor or even WordPress editor, your completed translations will be saved, but any in-progress translation jobs will be lost. Please see our article about turning off the Advanced Translation Editor for more information.


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