What is Translation Memory and Where Do We Use It?


Translation Memory is a linguistic database, a feature available in computer-based translation systems. Translation memories are used by translation agencies to store previously translated segments of texts for future use. These segments contains a combination of source text and the related translation. The segment can be a single word, a sentence or even a paragraph.  


Translation memory provides an excellent assistance in the translation process. It aids translators in completing their tasks in less time as it allows them to go ahead and re-use the previously translated textual segments. Also it helps translators in improving efficiency and maintaining consistency in the translated documents. 


Depending on the nature of translation work, translation memories can be small or large. The information stored in the database are based upon target sentence or source sentence concepts. For example, if a new sentence appears during the task and the database has a similar entry, it would then show that sentence to the translator. The translator will be able to pick the suggestion and proceed with the translation work. 

How Does Translation Memory Work? 

Now you have a basic understanding of what translation memory is. With that in mind, it is worth to take a look at how translation memory works. There are various translation memory tools available to store translation memory.


When a translator starts translating a new document, the translation memory software compares the source content with the stored segments. If there exists any similar content, then the software suggests segments of previously approved translation. It allows translators to maintain accuracy and consistency in the translated documents. The translator has authority to accept or deny the suggested change. Hence, there is a possibility to end up with a perfect outcome with the assistance of translation memory.

Also, translation memory software suggests changing or updating the existing or similar content in the document, thus allowing the translator to work more efficiently. 


Following are some basic components of a translation memory:


Source content which represents the orvginal text that needs translation.

Target content which represents the translated text that corresponds to the source text.

Metadata represents translation related details like date, translator, and project details.

Segmentation represents the process in which the translation memory software converts the text into smaller segments for better management and retrieval. 


Some Common uses of Translation Memory? 


  • Translation agencies use translation memory tools to employ consistency in translation projects which maintains the brand tone and message integrity. 

  • Translation memory saves time and reduces cost of a project by allowing the translator to reuse previously translated segments. 

  • Translation memory ensures high-quality output as it allows translator to refine the existing content instead of starting from a scratch.

  • Translation memory tools foster enhanced collaboration among the translators and the team. 


Where do we Use Translation Memory? 


Translation memory tools are used in various industries. Legal translation, medical translation, technical documentation, and localization industries utilize memory tools to enhance their performance. Following are some common areas where translation memory tools are used:


Professional Translation Companies

Translation memory is used in professional translation agencies where single project is handled by multiple translators. It ensures accuracy and consistency in the project and also minimizes the turnaround time. 

Corporate Sector

Companies and businesses planning to enter the global market need accurate and consistent translations for their websites, and other components like product descriptions, legal documents, and marketing materials. Translation memory can help these companies in maintaining the brand voice and messaging. 

Localization Companies

Any person who is localizing content will be able to use translation memory. Software and app developers utilize translation memory for translating user interfaces, help guides, menus, and other related documents to ensure smooth user experience. 

Legal and Medical Industries 

These industries usually have specified terminologies related to law and medicine which cannot be altered. Therefore, translation memory here can help maintain accuracy and consistency in the translated documents that will reduce the risk of errors in crucial documents.

Is Translation Memory the Same as Machine Translations?


Most of the people are baffled by the two terms translation memory and machine translations. The machine translations are completely automated. They do not need humans to process the information. Machine translation tools are faster than translation memory tools but are not always accurate. In case of translation memory, a translator still has to work himself/herself to get a document translated. Both of them can be used by individual translators for assistance during the translation tasks. 


The chances of ending up with mistakes is high when you use machine translation. In other words, the accuracy of the translated document will be somewhere in between 50% to 70%. You will still have to get the translated document proofread to attain accuracy. Therefore, the working principle of machvne translation is not similar to translation memory. Translation memory only provides options for the existing translated segments to save time and cost. Both of them have their own pros and cons and they cannot replace each other. 


Final thought! 


Translation memory helps to translate content from one language to another with minimum hassle. It streamlines the translation process, and also helops translators and businesses in ensuring accuracy, consistency, and efficiency in multilingual content. 


Translation memories are extremely helpful when translating content from a text. That’s because a large number of companies are currently working on Content Management Systems in order to manage the information. With the assistance of a CMS, it is possible for blocks of texts to be edited or translated, instead of working on an entire document. With the assistance of translation memory, this job can be done within a short period of time. It also provides more consistent results.

Translation memory enables effective communication in this globalized world as it fosters digital connections through accurate and consistent translations.

Also, read How to get Legal Documents Translated?