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April 22, 2024

2 min read

How Translation Memory and Term Bases Work Together

If you don’t often work with translation services, you may not be familiar with the terms Translation Memory and Term Base, or if you are familiar, you may still not know why both are necessary during the translation process.

As its name suggests, a Translation Memory learns from past translations and speeds up the process, allowing professional translators to become more efficient with each translation they do. So why do you need a Term Base if you have Translation Memory? The answer is that not everything will be translated exactly the same each time and some terms are specific to your brand. For example, a translator may have the choice of two words in a target language, and depending on the company’s intended message, one choice will be a better fit. For example, “The Great Outdoors” versus “Wilderness”

Translation Memory

A translation memory is a brand’s continuously expanding database of previously translated content. So each time a new word or phrase, commonly referred to as a segment, is translated, the translation memory saves it and creates a new entry. The new entry is paired with the translation so the next time the translation memory encounters that segment, it translates it the same way as before.

The translation memory will provide a translator with repetitions, exact matches, or fuzzy matches. Repetitions are repeated phrases that have appeared previously in the current document. This creates 101% matches because the segment has the same preceding and succeeding segments as a segment that was already translated. Exact matches mean the translation memory found an exact match to something translated in the past, indicating higher confidence in the translation. However, the context is different than in past instances, so the translator should still review to ensure the translation memory translated correctly. Finally, a fuzzy match has a lower level of confidence, between 55-99%. These may have similar components, but different context or sentence structure than past translations. Fuzzy matches give the translator a chance to confirm what was translated and they help the translation memory confirm the accuracy and build confidence.

Exact matches and repetitions help save time and reduce costs for you and your company. The more you work with a translation service, the more robust the translation memory becomes, hence the more efficient the translations.

Term bases

Term bases are true to their name – a term base is a database of terms. You can also think of a termbase like a glossary. Each term base is specific to a project or company and is intended to give a translator sufficient background on the terms used in that company’s materials. This enables the translator to confirm the accuracy of the translation memory and ensure your message stays consistent in what they translate.

Term bases will have more details for the terms used in your materials, including the part of speech, context, sample sentences, references, and a picture if applicable. On top of this additional information for each term, a term base will include any terms that should never be used, company preferences, or terms that do not get translated at all.

Translators use term bases in their final quality assurance reviews to confirm everything has been translated appropriately. This includes adhering to brand language, correct context information, and anything required grammatically in the target language.

Translation Memory and Term bases Together

Together, Translation Memory and Term bases make the translation process more efficient and cost-effective, without sacrificing quality. The translation memory supports a quick first translation, giving the translator an opportunity to review its translation and help the translation memory become more effective in future translations. Then to ensure everything is in line with your company’s brand and messaging, the term base is a tool used by translators in their quality review of the translation.

The end product is a clean translation of your original materials at a price you appreciate and in a timeline that keeps up with the fast-paced global market.

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