The 6 major translation memory (TM) systems

Translation memory systems and advantages.

Many translators, including those at ABC Translations, use translation memories, or so-called translation memory TM systems, to support professional translation. But what exactly are translation memory systems and what are they used for? What advantages do they offer the translator and for which translations are they suitable?

What is a translation memory system and how does it work?

A translation memory system is a database that, thanks to intelligent search and storage mechanisms, allows the translator to access previously translated technical terms or phrases. The content of a TM serves as reference material that is suggested to the translator for reuse with similar or identical texts. This means that previously translated phrases, text segments or terms do not have to be re-translated and can be adopted directly after being checked by the translator. The text segments that have already been translated have been written exclusively by the translator himself. Thus, in contrast to machine translation, translation memories are only used as a supporting tool.

What are the advantages of using translation memory systems?

Translation memories are widely used among freelance translators. The use of TM offers several advantages to you and the translator. Firstly, translating texts using TM leads to shorter turnaround times and greater efficiency, as the translator can refer back to previously translated phrases and terms. In addition, the use of translation memories means that translations are consistent, as it is easier to adhere to the relevant technical terminology and use it consistently. Another advantage of translation memory systems is cost savings, as these systems are also used to find repeated words in texts. In our translation agency, the final price for the client is reduced once a certain percentage of word repetitions is reached.

The 6 most popular translation memory systems

There are various translation memory providers on the translation market, which basically offer the same services and usually differ only slightly from each other. Which TM translators use is entirely up to them. However, the most common translation memory systems are:

  1. SDL Trados
  2. Déjà Vu
  3. MemoQ
  4. WordFast
  5. Across
  6. Alchemy Catalyst

As mentioned before, these databases are in no way comparable to machine translations à la Google Translate. Thus, translations are always done independently by a real and qualified translator, who can only rely on the support of a translation memory. However, the translator always retains the upper hand and decides for himself whether suggested phrases are accepted, modified or rejected.

Suitable translation projects for the use of TM

The use of translation memories is basically suitable for any type of translation. However, it is particularly useful and helpful for extensive texts with the corresponding specialist terminology. These include technical manuals and product catalogs, as well as websites, apps and web stores. Especially in the fields of law, medicine, technology and business, the correct and consistent use of specialist terminology is essential. For this reason, translation memory systems are used particularly frequently in these specialist areas. Linguistically, too, there are virtually no limits to the use of translation memories.

Do you have any questions about translation memory systems or do you need a professional translation? Then feel free to contact us at any time. Call us or send us an e-mail and we will discuss your individual translation project with you.

Nathan Woods

About the author

Nathan is a lead project manager with over 16 of experience directing translation projects, as well as website and software localization projects.

ABC Translations