What is a translation memory (TM)?
July 11, 2011
Translation Memory (TM) is a database which stores predetermined units of a source language together with its translated equivalent. A TM allows you to take advantage of repetitions within or between documents. In other words, the program that uses a TM will automatically translate repeated sentences by pulling the translation of a 100% matched and previously translated source sentence from the database.
The different TM software uses complex "fuzzy-logic" algorithms that allow the translator to take advantage of similar previously translated source sentences. In other words, the TM application will pull the translation of a previously translated source sentence, which "somewhat" matches a new sentence, and allows the translator to change it accordingly.
The main purpose of working with a TM tool is to save time and assure consistency in the translation process. As a translation services agency we at GPI integrate the translation memories in each translation project and customer.
Some of the benefits of using TM's are:
- Ensure translators that the document is completely translated.
- Ensure consistency through all the file or files.
- Cost reduction for client and the translation company.
- Time saving while maintaining quality.
What is the real impact of using TM technologies in the translation process?
With TM tools, translation agencies can analyze all source files received and breakdown translation costs into different tiers, for example:
- 100% match and repetitions: 100% match will apply only if the client can provide previous approved translations; otherwise this will apply to upcoming translation projects. Repetitions are words repeated across the source files provided and they're charged usually as same rate as 100% matches.
- Fuzzy Matches: Fuzzy matches are words/sentences that are very similar to ones translated before. This will apply only if the client can provide previous approved translations; otherwise this will apply to upcoming translation projects.
- New words: Words/sentences that don't fall in the categories above.
Each tier listed above have a different price model which helps translation agencies and customers to achieve savings in cost and time for upcoming translation projects.
Common Translation Memory tools
There are a variety of TM tools available. The list below highlights some of the tools more commonly used by linguists:
- SDL Trados 2009
- Déjà Vu
- Star Transit
Who does Translation Memory belong to?
Translation Memory (TM) is an important asset, and it belongs to the client (you) who paid for it in the first place. All time spent creating TM is billable as part of on-going translation projects, so TM does not belong to the vendor (translation agency.)
Unfortunately, there are a small number of translation vendors who will attempt to "sit on" TM and not deliver it to their clients. If this ever happens to you, treat this as a "red flag" and consider finding another translation company to work with. Most translation agencies will deliver TM updates at the end of the project, or on a quarterly basis. Your TM files are highly "portable" and can be shared with a multitude of translation vendors.
Additional resources on project management
To further understand how you can help optimize input for project management on your next project, read two of our previous blogs on translation project management: 11 Project Management Challenges for Translation Projects, Part 1 and 11 Project Management Challenges for Translation Projects, Part 2.
Useful resources on translation industry definitions
Globalization Partners International (GPI) has created a series of blogs and website resource pages to help you understand key concepts and vocabulary used in the translation and localization process:
- Difference between Translation Agency, Localization Services and LSP?
- Importance of Client Review Cycle in Translation
- 3 Metrics for Measuring Language Translation Quality
- Translation Services Portal
Globalization Partners International, the translation company, has created a more extensive overview of website globalization for several key locales in collection of downloadable globalization white papers known as our Website Globalization and E-Business Series. You may contact GPI at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 866-272-5874 with your specific questions about your target global markets and your project goals. You may also request a Translation Quote for your project as well.
- Document Translation
- Translation Memory, Project Management, Translation Tools, glossary, terminology, translation, localization
Federico Pascual - Director: Digital Delivery Services
Federico has over 12 years' experience as a globalization engineer managing a wide range of software and website globalization projects (internationalization I18n + localization L10n). His expertise spans software and website internationalization and localization processes, standards and tools as well as locale specific SEO. Federico has completed hundreds of successful globalization engagements serving as lead I18n architect involving different programming languages. He is a certified developer in several content management systems and helps clients create world-ready applications, utilizing development practices that are faster, more economical, and more localization-friendly.