Translation Memory (TM)
Perhaps the most crucial tool in the localization manager’s toolbox. A TM is an ever-growing database of translated strings that automatically updates with each translation completed by your team. LSPs can offer translation discounts based on the degree of similarity between new sentences and sentences that are already translated in the TM. Linguists can leverage a well-maintained TM while working within a CAT tool to save time and effort. TMs can suggest already-translated strings for one-click implementation. Linguists can also reference TMs to ensure that new translations are consistent with older ones. They’re most often exported as .tmx files.
How closely a new string matches what has already been approved in the TM. A 100% match would mean you already have the entire phrase translated and saved in the TM, so the translator only has to click “approved” to complete the translation work on that string. Good localization companies don’t charge anything for translations that are a 100% match. The best will even offer you a discount for matches that are considered “fuzzy” or partial.
The TM was able to pull previous translations for some of the words in the string, but not the whole phrase. For instance, consider the phrase “We offer the best technology on the market.” If the TM already has a translated version of “We use the best technology in the United States,” that could be considered a fuzzy match. The TM did 80% of the work, and the translator has only to edit the remainder of the translation, not start from scratch. The best localization services monitor the percentage of each fuzzy match and offer discounted rates accordingly—meaning you pay less for matches as they get closer to 100%. This is precisely how using a well-maintained TM can save your company a lot of money.
Similar to a TM, a terminology database (also called “term base” or TB) is a collection of mission-critical terms that have been translated by a linguist to serve as an authoritative reference. These terms are intended to be applied consistently across your content and don’t need to be re-translated each time. TBs include terms related to product names, slogans, UI elements, and other specific terminology that must remain identical after translation to uphold content integrity. Term bases also indicate certain terms with the DNT / “do not translate” distinction; for example, you likely won’t translate brand names into the target language. Term bases are exported as .tbx files.
A style guide, also referred to as a “brand guide,” indicates the elements of tone, voice, and word choice that should be observed in each target language. This guide helps translators create content that maintains a consistent brand voice. With a style guide in hand, you can be sure that your entire website, application, or elearning suite conveys your brand’s characteristic tone, whether formal, edgy, or business casual.