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What are Translation Memories?

A man downloading translation memories from the language application

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

Modern technology has transformed the way we translate.

Automation and AI are changing the way we work in all aspects of our lives, and now they are making it easier than ever before to be responsive to our global network's needs.

Translation memories are part of this technology toolbox that can speed up your entire translation workflow and get your content live quicker than ever before.

How exactly do they work? Keep reading to find out.

What is a Translation Memory?

A translation memory, or TM for short, is, as the name suggests, simply a memory of a sentence that was previously translated.

When your translation memory tool encounters a new sentence, it can be added to a memory database for future use. This is very useful if the sentence is commonly translated into your content.

Translation memories can work for one or many different language pairs from a source language.

How Do Translation Memories Work?

Sentences are saved into the database as a data type often called a segment. Your translation software can access these databases of these stored segments. When it does, it matches the stored data to any text they are translating, and if it encounters a good match, the content will be translated automatically.

Every time a new, untranslated sentence is discovered, it can be stored by the application, and the translation memory database will continue to expand.

What is a Fuzzy Match?

Matching translation sentences can be rated based on how well they match the content on a scale from 0% (no match) to 100% (exact match). The translation software can be set to define the quality of the match required before the automatic translation is made.

Non-exact matches or fuzzy matches can sometimes be helpful when the system cannot find an exact match for a sentence, but a high percentage of the words in the database are a good fit for something similar.

What are the Benefits of Translation Memories?

Translation memories are a huge aid in automating your translation process. They assist the translator by saving time and providing consistently reusable content in their translated documents.

The key benefits include the following:


Translation memories allow translators to work more quickly through the content by automatically translating common segments and giving them more time to focus on creating the most accurate translation. In turn, this speeds up the whole process and allows you to publish your content more quickly.


Recalled segments in translation memories allow for consistent translations to be produced. When combined with a termbase, a database of commonly used or preferred terms, they allow content to have a consistent voice and tone across all languages. You may change translators over time, but the your database of preferred terminology will remain the same.


By automating the process, you can avoid mistakes introduced by human error. Humans can make mistakes when they are tired or under lots of pressure. Machines will always produce the same result every time and can be an aid to humans by ensuring their accuracy remains high throughout the translation.


By using the segments stored in the TM database you can automate the process of making content changes. A monitoring system can be configured to make small changes, for example, UX text on buttons or online text chats, automatically when a recognised change to the content is detected by the program.

The Power of Translation Memories

Translation memories are a key tool for creating faster, more accurate and consistent translations for your company. If you would like to learn more about the power of AI in your translation process or how machine translation can help beat your competition to global markets, please fill out the form below, and we'll be in touch.

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