What Is Translation Memory?
Translation memory is simply a database of previous translations. This key linguistic asset places source text strings and their corresponding translations into language pairs that are hosted in a centralized storage location. Translators can then leverage translation memory “matches” to reduce redundant work and maintain linguistic consistency when completing future translations.
What Are The Business Benefits of Translation Memory?
Companies that leverage this linguistic asset can expect:
Accelerated Translation Speed: From product descriptors to legal policies, a significant proportion of a company’s preferred phrases will appear in multiple places across its corporate communications. Ignoring this reality and having translators approach every string as entirely new text creates unnecessary work. Translation memory accelerates project completion by reducing the number of instances in which a translator must start a string from scratch.
Reduced Translation Costs: Each time translators are presented with a new string, translation memory tools search for a matching pair among previous translations. When a match is discovered, per-word translation rates are reduced in proportion to the strength of the match. If the translation memory contains a pair that matches 92% of the new string, for example, translation costs might decrease from $0.18 to $0.11 per word.
Increased Translation Quality: Consistency is a defining trait of high-quality translation strategies. Translation memory tools proactively prevent inconsistencies by providing translators with previously approved terminology to reference. This feature is particularly valuable for companies with large and/or highly-distributed translation teams.
Best of all, these advantages only get sharper over time. The more you translate websites, mobile apps, emails, and business documents, the more powerful your translation memory becomes.
How Does Translation Memory Work?
Each time a new string is translated, the source text and its target text are paired together and added to the translation memory. When a translator is presented with similar source text in the future, its target text pairing may be suggested. There are various degrees of similarity to account for, however.
Strings that are a “100% match” often share the same character length, capitalization, whitespace, HTML tags, and metadata, for example, though some teams may set different parameters. In these cases, translators can quickly approve the suggestion and continue on to the next string. Depending on the translation management system being used, project managers may even be able to customize a workflow where perfectly matched strings skip review and move directly into production.
A string that is deemed a “fuzzy match,” by contrast, will only share 50-99% similarity with a pairing previously captured by the translation memory. In these cases, translators may need to make slight manual adjustments to the suggested target text. Nevertheless, taking advantage of partial matches is still much more efficient than starting each new string from scratch. And over the course of a lengthy website translation project, these incremental gains make a significant impact.
What Makes Smartling’s Translation Memory Tool Unique?
Translation memory is by no means a new concept. But by virtue of its inclusion in Smartling’s Translation Management platform, Smartling customers gain access to several distinct advantages.
Cloud Storage: Smart companies collaborate in the cloud, particularly when undertaking a project with as many moving parts as website translation. With Smartling, translation memory are files are centrally stored and updated in real-time. As a result, translators always have easy access to your most accurate brand terminology.
Complete Ownership: Smartling strongly believes your translation memory is your company’s intellectual property, not the property of your translation agency or technology partner. We enable you to instantly export your translation files in industry-standard, interchangeable formats whenever you wish and at no additional expense. Additionally, we’ll help you import files from past translations executed outside of your Smartling partnership.
Transparent Pricing: Many translation service providers charge additional fees to manage translation memory, negating some of its cost-saving effects in the process. At Smartling, we include it in the price of our core translation platform. It works in tandem with flexible workflows, CMS integrations, and a host of other elements that collectively encourage translation success.