Backwards compatibility is an issue that concerns many Trados Studio users. Possible scenarios range from “no problem” to “impossible” and can be almost anything in-between. The “SDL Trados Studio Migration Guide“ and the recent white paper “TTX Compatibility Guide for SDL Trados Studio 2009 Users” have more info about various scenarios, and are worth studying.
However, I just recently encountered a related problem that I didn’t expect. I got a bunch of INX.TTX files (InDesign files in TagEditor format) and a Workbench TM from a British client. The files and the TM were UK-English/Finnish. However, my own main TMs are for US-English. I could have done the translation using TagEditor because it allows you to open non-translated UK-English TTX files using an US-English TM. However, I wanted to do this in Studio, of course…
What I found out is that TMs and files in the same project have to have the same language variant — I was not able to open the UK-English TTX files using my American English TMs nor use the client’s UK-English TM and my own US-English TMs at the same time. So, I had to convert all my main US-Eng TMs to UK-English by exporting/importing them to new UK-Eng TMs. Not really something I would like to do on a regular basis even though there were only three TMs. This was actualy what SDL Support suggested as well… this or working in Trados 2007.
Of course, that’s not all. Now after the translation is done, I have all this new TM content but it’s in the UK-Eng TM, and I would need to get it into my main US-Eng TM. I could do that by a new round of exporting and importing, or I could import the translated material directly from the bilingual TTX files (a nice feature that Studio offers). I will use the latter one since it’s simpler to do.
From the technology point of view, there might be good reasons why Trados doesn’t include a setting to “overrule” the language variant issue. However, from the linguistic point of view, that doesn’t make much sense since having US or UK English as the source language doesn’t make any difference to me when I’m translating into Finnish. Luckily, I don’t have many UK-English-using clients but I can see that this could get pretty old quite fast if I had to do this more frequently.
By the way, there’s an improvement suggestion on ideas.sdl.com regarding this issue. You can find it here.