Oh, if every translation project could have a 100% match every single time. That world is a dream world, of course.

There is, however, the next best thing: translation memory. This is a database of every English sentence and its translated equivalent in any number of languages. It saves translators time and it saves clients money.

So what happens when a translator implements a new source text or phrase and it doesn’t match one of these “pre-translated” phrases exactly, but is really close? This is called a fuzzy match.

Minimizing Translation Time. Maximizing Translation Effectiveness.

Because most translation projects are priced based upon time spent in translation, translators need to know how to estimate a project properly–in regards to time, personnel and data returned to client.

Translation memory helps do this. Exact matches are self-explanatory. Fuzzy matches are just that—fuzzy–however they do have levels of fuzziness.

Fuzzy matches can be broken down into two types: high fuzzy matches and low fuzzy matches.

A high fuzzy match is when a small amount of the text and/or formatting is changed and it requires minimal editing. No worries. It’ll be quick.

A low fuzzy match is when the new phrasing has less than 75% in common with the translation memory’s current phrasing. This will require a fresh translation, thus more time and possibly more personnel.

Good news though: Once that fuzzy match is translated, it’s saved within translation memory and will not require future translation services.

What can trigger a fuzzy match? One word in a sentence won’t do it. Five words that differ? That’ll do it. Changes in sentence tags will do it: bold, italic, links, new fonts, etc.

Different word orders and unique punctuation will trigger a fuzzy match, too.

One note: Algorithms that calculate fuzzy matches differ between translation memory software, so just be aware that some are more “strict” than others.

In the end, fuzzy matches help your translation team estimate the amount of time they will need to professionally translate your projects. Which means it helps to have a team well-versed in translation memory, and one that will meet deadlines and cost estimates. Hint: one like, say, Acclaro. Contact an Acclaro team member for more information.