Translation Memory

Translation memory (TM) is now commonplace in the translation industry.  More and more translation agencies and direct clients are demanding that their translators use translation memory software, often requiring specific CAT (Computer-Aided Translation) tools. 

What is translation memory?  The purpose of translation memory is to allow translators to leverage previous translations. A translation memory application is basically built around a sophisticated database that recognises what has been previously translated and uses that knowledge to help the translator translate future text.  

Arhats from LiJiang China © G Raisman
Word upon word

How does it work?  As the translator translates the text, the software "remembers" each segment of source text and its translation. Then when the translator translates a new segment of text, the application searches back in its memory for identical or similar segments, and offers up their corresponding translations.

What are the benefits of translation memory?  Translation memory potentially allows translations to be done more cheaply, faster, and with better quality.

At RP Translate, we give our translation teams access to a variety of translation memory tools.  Each project has different requirements, and each translation memory tool responds to these requirements at different levels.  Selection of the most appropriate and efficient translation memory software option will help to ensure best output for your need.  

Our main CAT tools are SDL Trados, XTM Cloud and MemSource.  SDL Trados is a non-Cloud application and the original industry standard, XTM and MemSource are mature Cloud applications.

RP Translate has a specialist Project Manager in charge of Translation Memory in all its forms to give you full assurance and confidence that the approach we take to your work is fully considered to give you the best quality at the best price in the shortest possible time.


Since repeated segments can be recycled in new translations, less time is required to do the translation.  Although there are charges relating to reusing existing text because it has to be amalgamated with new text, these charges are significantly lower than the charges for completely new translation (usually around 50% of new translation rates).

How much cheaper translation memory can make a translation depends on the amount of text that can be recycled, which depends greatly on the nature of the document being translated, and the size of the translation memory. 

At one end of the scale, there may be 5 years' worth of translated manuals for a given product where, in the latest version only 5% or so of the text is new or modified. At the other end of the scale, there may be no translation memory, and a document with very little internal repetition. 

In the first case, it would be possible to work several times faster than without translation memory; in the second case, there would be almost no time savings.

Translation memory (TM) is now commonplace in the translation industry. More and more translation agencies and direct clients are demanding that their translators use translation-memory software, often naming specific applications.


There are two main ways that translation memory improves the quality of a translation: consistency and prevention of omissions (dropped text). Translations using translation memory are more consistent because features like concordance and automated glossary lookup give the translator a heads-up reference to terminology and expression.

This is especially handy when there is a client-supplied glossary that the translator is able to follow. Without automated lookup, the translator is almost guaranteed to miss some terms, especially if the list is long.

Omitted (dropped) text is a common problem for translators. It is quite easy to skip over a sentence or entire passage of text. While quality-conscious translators will check a translation carefully for omissions (preferably with at least two sets of eyes), this costs time, and hence money. Translation memory helps prevent dropped text by presenting the translator with each segment of text in turn; it becomes very difficult for the translator inadvertently to skip over text.

Unlike the benefits of cost of speed, the quality benefit is not greatly dependent on the nature of the document or the existence of memories. Thus even with types of document lacking a great deal of repetition and without a vast store of past translations in memory, translation memory can still be useful.


Quick Turnaround Times

"Thanks for the help on this one and meeting the quick turn around times."


Date : 09.04.2014

Languages : Italian, French, German, Chinese for China and Hong Kong, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish

Project : Wave update for a Tourism questionnaire for Australia

Documents : Powerpoint presentation plus excel spreadsheet plus 10 x html files

Note : Particularly complex because of the fiddly nature of inserting the text into the html files which had multiple non-translation items and also a significant amount of duplication across the files.

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