Why a 100% Translation Memory match is not 100% free

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, particularly the translation memory (TM) feature, are one of the best technologies invented for the translation industry.  As the name implies, CAT tools assist translators, but they do not replace them.

TM stores every pair of units (words, phrases or sentences) translated between two languages so that they can be re-used in the future – either again in the same file where text repeats itself, or in future files with the same text. It acts like a big glossary (of words, phrases or sentences) that helps maintain consistency in style, terminology and minimizes the amount of repetitive work that a translator does. These reductions in repetitive work reduce time for the translator and costs for the client, but while the translation is automatically retrieved from the TM, it still needs to be checked based on the context of the new text and file. This is because different languages work differently based on context. Therefore, many times, the translator needs to make adjustments to the text according to the rules and usage of the target language.

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Understanding translation memory

Understanding translation memoryIn order to make future translation projects easier, we use what’s called “translation memory.” This is simply a database that stores pairs of sentence segments in different languages to help translators maintain consistency in their work.

The translation memory stores what are called “translation units;” for example, a translator working on a life sciences translation may store certain technical terms or phrases to be recalled later for future translations in the software.

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