Monday, June 10, 2013

Translation Memory and Translation Memory Tools

What is a translation memory?

A translation memory or TM is a database that stores previously translated source and target words, sentences and paragraphs into an electronic file. This memory allows us to reduce costs for future translation, speed up translation work and keep consistant terminology throughout all documents.

The source text (original) and target text (translation) is stored in TM. Usually, translation memory is created from scratch and updated by the translator with each translation or revision. Looking for a term or sentence in translation memory is searching for repetitions in a previously created individual term base. What it means for a translator is that the same sentence will never have to be translated again. Moreover, translation memories also allow fuzzy matching which shows the translation of a similar segment, even if the 100% match cannot be found. Such fuzzy translation can then be modified by the translator to match the source segment perfectly. The more that translation memories are built up, the faster translators can work, thus accelerating the delivery of translation projects and increasing revenue.

Benefits of using translation memory

  1. Terminology. The main advantage of using TMs is the consistency of terminology within all language projects.
  2. Ensuring that the document is completely translated. It is immediately clear which parts of the text must be translated.
  3. Dividing the project among various translators. Different translation teams can be assigned to your projects if the translation memory is made available. The terminology will remain consistent throughout all projects as new translators can use the pre-translated terms with less effort.
  4. Saves time and increases productivity especially when a text is repetitive. 
  5. Enabling translators to translate documents in a wide variety of formats, such as .indd, .xml, .html, .rtf, .ppt and many more.
  6. Saves money. TM helps clients to save money as the cost of repetitive text is considerably lower.

Translation memory and related standards

  • TMX 
    Translation Memory eXchange (TMX) is a standard that enables the interchange of translation memories between translation suppliers. TMX has been adopted by the translation community as the best way of importing and exporting translation memories. 
  • TBX 
    TermBase eXchange. This LISA standard, which was revised and republished as ISO 30042, allows for the interchange of terminology data including detailed lexical information. The framework for TBX is provided by three ISO standards: ISO 12620, ISO 12200 and ISO 16642. ISO 12620 provides an inventory of well-defined “data categories” with standardised names that function as data element types or as predefined values. 
  • UTX 
    Universal Terminology eXchange (UTX) format is a standard specifically designed to be used for user dictionaries of machine translation, but it can be used for general, human-readable glossaries. The purpose of UTX is to accelerate dictionary sharing and reuse by its extremely simple and practical specification.
  • SRX 
    Segmentation Rules eXchange (SRX) is intended to enhance the TMX standard so that translation memory data that is exchanged between applications can be used more effectively.
  • GMX
    GILT Metrics. GILT stands for (Globalisation, Internationalisation, Localisation, and Translation). The GILT Metrics standard comprises three parts: GMX-V for volume metrics, GMX-C for complexity metrics and GMX-Q for quality metrics.
  • OLIF 
    Open Lexicon Interchange Format. OLIF is an open, XML-compliant standard for the exchange of terminological and lexical data. 
    XML Localisation Interchange File Format (XLIFF) is intended to provide a single interchange file format that can be understood by any localisation provider. XLIFF is the preferred way of exchanging data in XML format in the translation industry.
  • TransWS
    Translation Web Services. TransWS specifies the calls needed to use web services for the submission and retrieval of files and messages relating to localisation projects. 
  • xml:tm
    The xml:tm (XML-based Text Memory) approach to translation memory is based on the concept of text memory which comprises author and translation memory.
  • PO
    Gettext Portable Object format. Though often not regarded as a translation memory format, Gettext PO files are bilingual files that are also used in translation memory processes in the same way translation memories are used.

The most popular CAT tools

  • SDL Trados 
  • Wordfast
  • SDLX
  • Across 
  • STAR Transit
  • Idiom 
  • Swordfish
  • Déjà Vu
  • etc.

RIX Translation Service Agency
About the author

RixTrans ( – rapidly growing translation agency providing innovative language solutions.

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