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The Difference Between a Termbase and a Translation Memory

Verity Hartley at LanguageWireVerity Hartley , Marketing Specialist, LanguageWire ||  Reading Time: 3 minutes

If your business regularly works with translations involving multiple languages, you may have already encountered the terms "termbase" and "translation memory". While both are essential tools for translators, they each serve a different purpose. In this straightforward guide, we'll explain the basics of termbases and translation memories, the differences between the two, and how they can help to improve your translations.

What is a Termbase?

A termbase (TB), also known as a terminology database, is a collection of specific words and expressions used in a particular subject area, industry, or company. A term entry may include definitions, examples as well as the corresponding translations of these words and expressions in other languages. The primary purpose of a termbase is to ensure consistency and accuracy in translations by providing a reference for the translator.

For example, when translating a legal document, the corresponding termbase might include terms like "jurisdiction," "liability," or "indemnity." When translating a marketing brochure for a technology company, on the other hand, it may include terms like "cloud computing," "cybersecurity," or "digital transformation."

What is a Translation Memory?

A translation memory (TM) is a database that stores previously translated content in the source and target language. The content is stored as bilingual segments – or translation units – in the database for future use. When a translator encounters the same or a similar sentence or string in a new translation, the translation memory will provide the previously translated version as a suggestion for the translation, saving time and improving consistency.

For example, if while translating the user manual for a product, the sentence "Press the red button to start the machine" has already been translated, the translation memory will provide the stored translation as a translation suggestion for a new sentence like "Press the green button to activate the machine."

How Do They Differ?

While both termbases and translation memories are databases used in translation, they serve different purposes. A termbase is a reference tool used to ensure consistency in terminology across translations, whereas the purpose of a translation memory is to reuse previous translations and thereby save time.

How Do They Work Together??

Termbases and translation memories work together to improve the quality and efficiency of translations. For example, a termbase can be integrated into computer-assisted translation software to ensure consistent terminology across translations, improving the accuracy of the translation memory suggestions.

How Can They Benefit Your Business?

Using a termbase and translation memories can benefit your business in several ways. By ensuring consistent use of terminology, you can improve the accuracy of your translations, making your content easier to understand for your target audience. Additionally, by reusing previous translations, you can save time and reduce translation costs.

Using these tools can also help you maintain brand consistency across languages, strengthening your corporate voice and ensuring that your messaging is clear and effective in every language. This can improve customer satisfaction.

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