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The advantages of a translation memory

09 January 2017

The right tools make translating all the more easy and fast. That is why we ensure our translators and revisers have the right dictionaries, terminology glossaries, and other reference materials. They often also use translation memories. These make the translating process faster and more efficient.

How does a translation memory work?

Translation memories are databases in which sentences and phrases from the source and target languages are stored together. When translating, the database is searched to check if a sentence or a word has already been translated. If that is the case, the translation can be reused. 

A translation memory is not a machine translation

Don’t forget: a translation memory is not the same as a machine translation, like the kinds you get from Google Translate. That kind of translation is done entirely by a computer. A translation memory must be seen as a sort of prompter for the translator. It copies over the previously translated text, but also takes the context into account because this could differ. 

What are the benefits?

A translation memory is an important tool for the translator, but it is the customer who really reaps the benefits.

  • Faster: the more sentences that have already been translated and can be retrieved from the database, the sooner the translation is ready.
  • More consistent: words and sentences that were previously translated are translated in exactly the same way in updates or new versions of the document when the translations are retrieved from the database.
  • Less expensive: there is a more advantageous rate for words and/or sentences that have already been translated. 


A translation memory is created per customer. This means that the specific terminology for that customer remains reserved for their texts only.

Feedback = higher quality

The longer we collaborate with a customer, the bigger the translation memory gets. So the customer will only benefit from letting us know what professional jargon, words, and sentences regularly appear in their texts. We use translation memories to guarantee consistent quality.

For what kind of texts?

Annual reports, standard procedures, contract templates, etc. Translation memories are perfectly suited for texts that have a repetitive nature or texts that need to be updated. A translation memory will also save a lot of time and money for technical texts with a lot of specific terminology. These are texts like product manuals or safety regulations. 

Would you like to know more?

How can translation memories benefit you? Please don’t hesitate to contact Johan Noël for expert advice: johannoel@elanlanguages.com - +32 (0) 11 49 04 68.

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