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How does a Translation Memory work?

Updated: Jan 23

Translation Memory is a means to obtain consistent and cost-effective translation, with little effort. Here’s how TMs work.

Using a Translation Memory does not mean using a machine translation tool, but rather re-using previous translations. The Translation Memory, or TM, represents a database of „pairs”, formed by sections of already translated and approved text, in both source and target languages.

The software we use (whether it is alignment programs or SDL Trados), divides the segments automatically, usually in sentences, lists or table elements.

Any new text is then compared to the one stored in the database, and similar segments will be recognized and shown as a ”fuzzy” matches. When composing a project package, a word count analysis is generated and it contains:

  • Perfect Matches (100% match): A segment in the new document that is identical to a segment stored in the Translation Memory.

  • Repetitions: A segment that is repeated multiple times in the new document and has to be translated only once, the rest being auto-generated by the TM throughout the project.

  • Fuzzy Matches (75-99% match): A segment that is partially identical to one in the TM but not entirely, needing revision.

  • No Matches (0-74% match): No similar segment has been found and the text

translation memory

must be translated entirely.

During the translation process, the system shows what percentage corresponds to each segment and allows the translator to accept this suggestion, to modify it or to replace it entirely with a new translation. These new additions will be stored in the Translation Memory to use in future projects.

A translation memory can be created either by using an empty one – used to store the translations from the beginning of the project -, or from existing translations – using an ”alignment” tool. Such tools automatically line and pair a source file with the approved, translated one, and transform them in databases for future use.

Using a Translation Memory system has the following advantages:

  • The entire translation process is much faster, being more efficient when dealing with updates or software documentation, where the volume of new translations is low;

  • It allows for an easier method of tracking and replacing the parts that need to be changed;

  • The new translations are much more consistent, because the same terminology can be used throughout the projects (and it can also allow integration of glossaries);

  • It is cost-effective, since the word count that has to be translated from scratch is reduced.


Our quotation discounts:

Perfect Matches or Repetitions: When the text to be translated is identical to an existing text in the TM, the only remaining task is to check the integrity of these segments and adjust the terminology when necessary. Normally, these are discounted between 75% and 100%, on a project-to-project basis.

Fuzzy Matches: For the 75-94% matches, the previously translated text can be reused, with only minor edits and adaptations, and we apply a discount of 25%. This price includes the review, after translation.

No Matches: If the match is lower than 75%, the text will be translated entirely, which means the full price is applied, including the linguistic review.

To find out more about our our services, visit our dedicated pages or give us a call.

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