A translation memory, or TM, is a software program designed as an aid
for human translators. Translation memories are also known as
translation memory managers (TMM).
Translation memories are typically used in conjunction with a word
processing program, a terminology management system, a multilingual
dictionary, and even raw machine translation output.
A translation memory consists of a database of text segments in a
source language and their translations in one or more target
languages. These segments can be individual words or multiword
Research indicates that many companies producing multilingual
documentation are using translation memory systems
Translation Memory tools
Trados - translation memory tool.
Foreign Desk- translation memory tool.
Déjà Vu - translation memory tool.
OmegaT - a free translation memory application written in Java
intended for professional translators. Compatible with other
translation memory applications (TMX Level 1).
SDLX - translation memory tool.
STAR Transit - editor/translation memory tool.
WordFast, a small, fast, effective translation memory program
developed by Yves Champollion. Not free anymore.
IBM TM/2, Star Transit or Alpnet's proprietary TSS/Joust,
Among other good things, those "client-independent"
programs provide really user-friendly translation memory and
contextual search features, import any files you ask them to and
re-export them as ready-to-go documents with all formatting and
graphics in places.
Translation memory managers are most suitable for translating
technical documentation and documents containing specialized
vocabularies. Their benefits include:
· Ensuring that the translated documents are consistent, including
common definitions, phrasings and terminology. This is important when
different translators are working on a single project.
· Accelerating the overall translation process; since translation
memories "remember" previously translated material,
translators have to translate it only once.
· Reducing costs of long-term translation projects; for example
the text of manuals, warning messages or series of documents needs to
be translated only once and can be used several times.
For large documentation projects, savings (in time or money) thanks
to the use of a TM package may already be apparent even for the first
translation of a new project, but normally such savings are only
apparent when translating subsequent versions of a project that was
translated before using translation memory.
How Do Translation Memory Tools Work?
Many of us have used Internet translation similar to that provided by
AltaVista's Babel Fish in an attempt to translate an email or unknown
text. We quickly realize that while it may give us an idea of the
underlying message and prove to be a quick low-cost solution, it is
anything from perfect. Machine translation is no match for a real
A segment is a string of text, usually a sentence, but in some
languages a segment may be a whole paragraph.
Translation memory tools store previously translated segments in a
database, enabling translators to work more efficiently and reducing
the need for retranslation. When translating a new document, these
tools find and retrieve identical or similar matches of these segments
for reuse. The results are returned with a rank or score according to
the percentage of similarity between the text being translated and the
An exact match (100%) is returned where there is no difference or
variation between the two strings.
A fuzzy match is returned where the strings are very similar but
not identical. The same string that uses different formatting can
return a fuzzy match.
Translators often charge different rates when text is found as an
exact match, as a fuzzy match (with the match falling between a
certain percentage), or is a new translation