Upcycling old translation units

The word ‘recycling’ has been with us for several decades. In practice it is not dissimilar to the wartime ‘salvage’ and this indeed is what my mother still calls it. But there is a relatively new word on the scene: ‘upcycling’. It is growing in popularity on the craft scene, in a similar way to the ‘vintage’ movement, which is another form of recycling. Upcycling though involves a bit more work and creativity, by taking beads off an old necklace, fabric from an old shirt, lace trim from an old blouse etc, and using them to create a new and unique item. The significant difference between recycling and upcycling is that the upcycled product is better quality than the original or better for the environment.

I wondered how we could ‘upcycle’ fragments of old translations. Translation memory allows us to recycle translation units and add them to a new translation. Does this make the new translation better? It is supposed to, in the sense that it makes it more consistent. However, it is still a translation. Can we use these fragments to make something new and better? Well, we also have the facility to create glossaries. Would turning old translation units into completely new glossaries consistute ‘upcycling’?

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