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Translation Memory

Translation Memory: What Is It and How Does It Work?

A translation memory is simply one of the many parts of the automation revolution of the translation industry. This revolution we are currently experiencing is both an exciting and scary time for translators! Translation technologies have grown rapidly in recent years, with machine translation output making jaws drop.

Although machine translation will never replace human translators, there are many technologies that make translators’ lives easier. From Computer-Assisted Translation tools (CAT tools) to machine translation, translation management systems, and translation bots, there is a lot to choose from. But how do these technologies impact the translation process? And, more specifically, what exactly is a translation memory and how does it work?

How a Translation Memory Works

Translation memories are one translation technology that we use here at Crisol Translations. By storing past translations in a database, a translation memory draws on this data to re-use words, phrases, and sentences for future translations. These segments can vary in length and the software chooses them based on their contextual relevance for the project at hand. Can the process of establishing and cleaning a translation memory be lengthy? Yes. Are the long-term effects of this technology worth it? For certain types of texts, definitely! They mean that, as a translator, you may never have to translate the same sentence twice.

The Benefits of a Translation Memory

Translation memories are one of the most useful tools in modern translation! Translation technologies have come super far since their introduction to the industry, nowadays helping produce extremely high-standard translations. These superior linguistic products keep clients happy, linguists productive, and repeat business constant. Alongside the quick turn-around associated with the use of translation memories, this is all extremely effective in driving client satisfaction.

When using a translation memory, you use previous translations to
leverage your new translation projects. This lowers the time you need to complete a translation, which can, in turn, reduce costs. With big, well-maintained and up-to-date translation memories, the levels of consistency and quality improve greatly! Such improvement also means a reduced need for in-depth revision, once again lowering costs.

Translation Memory vs. Other Translation Technologies

Translation memories are unique in that it is a human translator, not a machine, who initially completes the actual, original translation. This differs from other technologies such as machine translation where a computer programme does the entire translation, meaning the output is of significantly lower quality. What’s more, the number of languages translation memories support is infinite, meaning the opportunity for growth is endless. However, big agencies often use translation memories alongside machine translation (especially when the translation involves a lot of simple repetitive language, and standard terms) with great results.

Always be careful that your translation provider curates machine-translation output if they use it in their translations! The practice of charging clients for human services and delivering the work of a robot is more frequent in our industry than you’d like to know, so you need to stay alert.

When Do Translators Use Translation Memories?

Often translators need to work on projects that are very repetitive. In this case, a translation memory is a perfect tool to use. First, it isolates segments of text that are already in its database, and then it automatically populates the new translation with them. As it was a professional translator who did the original work, you have the guarantee that the translated segment is of good quality. Note: translation memories need maintenance! Did you know that the need for maintaining them has created an actual new role within big translation agencies?

At Crisol Translation Services, we aim to provide you with high-quality translations for the best value. To do this, we work with the most cutting-edge translation technologies, such as translation memories that we have been growing and maintaining for years, to ensure your translation is perfect every time. For more on how we can perfect your translation efforts, contact us at

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