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Translation Memory

Translation software began in the 20th century, and it has been evolving ever since. You might have heard of the famous CAT tools, and their groundbreaking feature ‘Translation Memory’ but don’t quite understand the concept behind it.

Make sure to stick around because we have gathered all the most recurrent questions about translation memories (TMs) and answered them in this article.


What is translation memory?

First things first, a translation memory (TM) is a database that stores translated language pairs. These pairs are referred to as ‘segments’ or translation units. They can be anything from full sentences, phrases, words, or paragraphs.

Translation memory is recurrent in the context of translation software like CAT tools. The main purpose of TM is to store translations for future use. This makes the task easier for translators because they no longer need to repeat recurrent translations. It’s also important to maintain consistency throughout translation.

It is a tool that very few translators can live without.



How does translation memory work?

When a translator uploads a file into the translation management system (TMS) or CAT tool, it gets segmented, and analyzed by the translation memory.

Doing what computers do best, the TM sees in the text similarities to what is already stored in its database. It retrieves these translations and suggests them for the translator to use, edit, or disregard.

Sounds simple! But how does the TM finds those similarities?


How does TM Find Matches?

Similarities are referred to as ‘matches’. In finding matches between segments pre-saved in the TM and newly uploaded translation files, the TM uses Perfect and Fuzzy matches.


Perfect Matches

The segment in the newly uploaded source file is identical to that stored in the TM.


Fuzzy Matches

The source text segment matches parts of the one present in the TM. The higher the percentage of the fuzzy match, the more accurate the match is.


What are the benefits of translation memory?


2-Cost Saving

3-Time Saving

Let’s break down each one of those.



Without a TM, it would be hard for translators and editors to maintain consistency. The human unlike the software fails to recall how a certain word or sentence was translated months or years ago.

TMs can recall data no matter how old it is. This is crucial for ensuring a better user experience, especially for those reading highly technical content that can’t afford inconsistency.



For businesses, TMs help reduce the translation rate, because if one source document gets scanned for having many repetitions, then the translator will not exert much effort translating it, and therefore, their rate could be discounted because the TM already took care of the rest.

Consequently, a translation memory also leads to faster turnaround time and higher revenue.



The translation memory allows for faster turnaround. This means accepting more projects from clients more often.

For businesses, this means getting work done quickly, especially with tight deadlines.



How to create a quality translation memory?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:


Provide Context

To build up a quality translation memory database, translators need to provide quality translations. This could be achieved if clients or companies give them enough context, like who is this translation targeting, or in what medium it will be published.


Use automated quality assurance (QA)

To save quality translations to the TM, it needs to be checked for typos, grammar mistakes, and other simple proofreading that comes under the umbrella of Quality Assurance tools.


Make linguistic quality assurance

You can take an extra step and get an editor or a linguist to further check the translation for minor mistakes that the QA could miss.


Make sure the TM is up to date

When further edits are made to the translation outside the TM, make sure to go and add it so that it is up to date and in sync with all other outside edits.

Someone, probably a highly qualified editor or linguist should be hired to keep the TM up to date, polished, and free of mistakes.



What are some best practices for using a translation memory?

There is more you can do besides the tips mentioned above to get the most out of the TM.


Tweak the source text to get more matches

Before translation, there is the step of writing the source text, right?

What if the source text can use words and phrases that are already saved in the translation memory? This will not only create more matches which will ease the translation; but it will also enhance consistency, especially with technical texts.


Gather Your team in one place

Which is better? Each team member working on their preferred CAT tool and translation memory or when they all use the same TM and CAT software?

This way efforts are reduced, and productivity skyrockets.



How does TM differ from Machine Translation?

At this point you might ask, what is the difference between machine translation, and translation memory?

Both of them work differently, have different benefits, and achieve different results. Take a look at the below table:


Translation Memory (TM) Machine Translation (MT)
Depends on human attempted translation. The machine does all the translation.
Suggests translations when there is an exact or a similar match. Handles the entire text or document.
Can always be edited and updated by editors. The translation by the machine is final, and MTPE edits are done by professional translators.
Enhances accuracy and consistency Entails many contextual errors and difficulties with accuracy
The more you translate, the more the TM grows and becomes helpful Instant results
It can be found in CAT tools like Trados, and MemoQ Examples: Google Translate, Reverso



How does Fast Trans use translation memory to boost its productivity?

As established above, a translation memory is crucial for all parties included in a translation project. In Fast Trans, we make the most of our efforts and the least of our clients’ time and money. This is achieved in numerous ways, on top of it are translation memories.

At Fast Trans, we’re always keeping translation memories up to date, and making sure we introduce the latest translation software suitable for the needs of our clients.

Reach out to get instant help from our large team of certified translators now.


We covered the same topic in Arabic, feel free to check it by clicking here

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