The Importance of Translation Memory

Like every other industry out there, the language and translation industry is also forced to meet the demands set by a time and profit-driven market. Efficiency is not just a quality to strive for; it is a core competency.

However, the translation business is one where repetition occurs a lot. This can be quite counterproductive if efficiency is what you’re aiming for. So, how does a translation provider overcome this? Well, they overcome this with the help of what is known as “Translation Memory”.

A Translation Memory or TM is basically a database made up of existing translations. The source text is saved along with its paired text to create this database. For example, a source text in English is saved with its paired text in Spanish.

The objective of a TM is to prevent the same translations from being carried out over and over again.

How does a TM work?

When a translation is carried out through the translation system, the source text string is saved in the database along with the translated text. This results in the creation of what is known as a “Translation Unit”. So, whenever another translation is carried out through the translation memory system, it searches for a match for each word segment.

If there is a similar or identical segment available in the database, then the translation memory system retrieves the concerned translation units and shows them to the user (translator). There is also a match indicator to help determine the degree to which the source segment matches with the ones in the database.

If the match is identical, the match indicator will display it as a “100% match”. If there is a match between two subsequent segments, the match indicator will highlight it as “Context Match” or “CM”. However, if there are a few differences, the match indicator will call it a “Fuzzy Match”.

Key benefits

There are several key benefits to utilizing translation memory.

Firstly, there are significant gains in terms of speed. Translation is a time-consuming task and therefore, saving as much time as possible is of the utmost importance. TM allows this by channeling the translator’s energy towards the newer translations instead of having them focus on translating identical content.

Repetitive translations are more common than they seem. This is especially true in the field of technical translations, where content doesn’t undergo major changes for years together. Translation memory can eliminate the repetitive work and direct effort towards what matters.

Secondly, it can bring down costs as well. Since translation is charged on a per word basis, it is going to cost you the same to translate a mildly revised version of an existing piece of content. However, if your provider uses a translation memory, this won’t be the case.

The translation memory will eliminate the translation for repeated pieces of text, thereby bringing down the overall word count. As result, you, as a client, will be required to pay much less for revised translations.

Finally, both clients and translators also gain in terms of consistency. Since the translation memory database is already filled with approved translations, you will have fewer errors to deal with when translating another document or piece of content.

Since a chunk of your previous content has already been translated and retained in the translation memory, there is no need for fresh translations. This ensures that your content sounds consistent, whether it’s a brochure or a manual. This is quite helpful when it comes to matters such as brand identity or value.

So, when choosing your localization or translation provider, translation memory is something you can add to the set of criteria.

Ready to go global? Sign up for a 2 week trial here and we’ll reach out to help.