Human translators & translation memory: the perfect match

By Acclaro
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Human Translators & Translation Memory: The Perfect Match

If you’ve partnered with a translation company before, you’ve probably heard of Translation Memory (TM). Maybe you’ve even benefited from it. But have you ever wondered how it actually  works? 

First, let’s have a crash course on what TM is. When you have more than one translation project (which, let’s face it, most companies do), it’s a huge waste of time and money to translate the same words and phrases over and over again. TM helps take away that burden. 

For example, you probably use consistent terminology within your marketing content or repeated sentences and phrases on your web pages. This computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool stores all that previously translated content in a database, so that human translators can use it for updates and future translation projects. Over time, this can reduce the cost of translation, improve quality and ensure consistency. 

Here’s where things get fuzzy

TM’s effectiveness depends on the quality of the matches it makes between its database of stored phrasing and the new content you’re translating. 

  • 100% match: A perfect match. The translator can quickly approve a translation and move on.
  • Fuzzy matches
    • High fuzzy matches: Only a few words have been changed, and most of the translation can be recycled from the TM; it requires minor edits.
    • Low fuzzy match:  Mostly new content, with minimal reusable content in the TM; requires substantial edits.
    • No fuzzy match: The translator needs to translate from scratch.

Let’s take a closer look

Below is a typical CAT-tool environment featuring an English-into-French translation. The translator starts with empty fields.


  1. Left column: Source segments
  2. Middle column: For entering corresponding translation
  3. Right column: CAT pane that will display translation memory fuzzy matches
  4. Bottom left: In-context preview
  5. Bottom right: Track changes field

Segments 1 and 2 contain new words, therefore no suggestions are provided in the CAT pane.

Translation Memory - CAT tool for translation to reduce costs, improve quality and ensure consistency

Segment 3 shows a 99% fuzzy match. The results from the TM show an almost identical string already translated into French. The track changes field shows the precise changes, so that the translator can quickly update the translation.

Translation Memory - 99% Fuzzy Match

Similar fuzzy matches appear in segments 4 and 5. 

Segments 6 and 7 are new words. 

Segment 8 contains similar text to segment 6. It’s a 70% fuzzy match.

Translation Memory - 70% Fuzzy Match

Segment 9 is identical to segment 7. This is a repetition. It shows a 100% match from the TM. There are no changes displayed in the track changes field.

Translation Memory - Exact Match or Repetition

Almost any translation project can benefit from translation memory

Your savings can be significant even if your project produces a preponderance of low fuzzy matches. Why?

  • TM matches require less time to update than new translations
  • Faster updating gives you a speed-to-market advantage 
  • Your company will sound like it’s writing with “one voice”

From creative campaigns that must speak in pitch-perfect brand voice to multimedia or app translations, using MT is a reliable tool that can help you drive consumer awareness and engagement across international markets.

And when you’re eager to make your mark in new regions, there’s little time to do things twice.

Translation memory is just one of the many tools in Acclaro’s technology toolbox. If you’d like to learn more about how your company can benefit from TM and other translation tools, contact us today.

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