What is a translation memory?


Was ist ein Translation Memory?

Technology is now conquering all areas of life and making our work easier. The translation industry is no exception to this. After all, it is impossible nowadays to imagine everyday working life as a translator without translation memory systems.

What do you need to know about translation memories?

A translation memory, TM for short, is an organised translation repository. In other words, a database in which translations are continuously saved as the translator works so that they can be reused for new texts in the future. Translation memories are always restricted to two languages. If customers have their texts translated into multiple languages, a separate TM is created for each language. In addition to this, several translation memories could even be created for each individual language if there are translations in various specialist fields.

In a translation memory, text segments are saved as translation units. Depending on the configuration, a segment can be a sentence or an entire paragraph. A translation unit always consists of a source-language segment and its corresponding target-language segment. The more that is translated, the larger the database from which translators can benefit becomes, provided the TM is up to date and consistent.

A carefully maintained TM provides excellent support for translators’ work and helps our customers to save costs. Information that previously had to be painstakingly collected, noted down and stored somewhere can now be found in the translation memory. Thanks to this technology, translators have access to a wealth of knowledge that they, or possibly their colleagues, created in the form of translations. Whether it is a particularly apt turn of phrase or a matching equivalent to a term, the translation memory supplies all the matches for the desired word or term that have been saved there. Translators therefore do not have to reinvent the wheel, but can simply use the existing translation, provided it fits the context.

If you require further information on TM maintenance, read our article “Three good reasons for translation-memory maintenance”.

When is a TM particularly useful?

Technical texts are especially suited to the use of translation memories, as the wording is frequently repeated and the text itself follows a specific pattern. The situation is completely different when it comes to marketing texts: they are written to sound as creative and “fresh” as possible, which all but excludes repetitions. However, this does not mean it is not worth using a translation memory when translating marketing texts. For instance, an advertising slogan or a play on words that is woven throughout corporate texts as a common thread to boost recognition of the brand must be translated consistently. This is where the TM comes into play – thanks to the saved translation, translators do not have to take the time to create something new.

A TM increases the consistency of translations. However, when it comes to the correct and consistent translation of specialist terms, a terminology database should be maintained. You can read about our experience in this area here: exact! is a terminology expert for EU projects



Of course, here at exact! we also use translation memories for our customers. If you have any further questions about this, simply give us a call. If you would like to commission us with a translation, please request an offer.


exact! Newsletter

Receive useful information relating to translation and interesting project reports straight to your inbox.