For the layman, translation memory and glossaries are probably two terms that cause confusion. Upon closer inspection, these are two tools that help significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs during the translation process. Both represent the tools of the trade of professional translators.

If you are curious to find out what they consist of, how they work and what the difference is between the two, this article was created to give you all the answers. On the other hand, as a client, the more knowledge you have about the industry, the better your chances will be of wisely selecting a language service provider.

So let’s see what they are and what distinguishes a translation memory from a translation glossary.

What is translation memory

A TM (Translation Memory) is a linguistic database in which translators save texts or parts of text in the source language and the corresponding translation in the target language. The texts are divided into units, which in technical jargon are called segments, which can be made up of single words, entire sentences, sentences or even entire paragraphs.

For each customer and language combination it is possible to create a specific TM. It is to all intents and purposes a flexible database as it grows gradually as new translations are developed and evolves with the language of the client and the reference sector.

What is a glossary

A glossary, sometimes called a terminology database, is used for terminology management. A glossary is a centralized collection of technical and/or business terms. This collaborative tool combines pre-approved terms, images, and reference materials that translators can share in real time, improving consistency and speeding up the translation process.

A good glossary will contain key terms from the source language and approved translations in the target language, along with a clear definition and appropriate context for its use. A glossary can also include specific terms or phrases that do not need to be translated, but must be retained in the target language.

The use of a glossary is recommended when there is an abundance of specialized content. A glossary provides a unified approach to managing terminology for multiple projects in multiple languages. It is a valuable tool for effectively managing customer-specific terms in both source and target languages. In cases where there is a high volume of repetition it can save time and money, while maintaining consistency in translation quality. A good terminology database eliminates ambiguity and serves as a guide for translation and localization experts on how to manage key terminology.

Difference between translation memory and glossaries

Translation memory and glossaries are two different tools, although non-experts may not immediately understand the difference. Translation memory is a translation tool that is used to store and help consistently translate content, while a glossary is a guide for translators on how to translate specific terminology for a translation project.

By providing clearly defined translations for key terminology, a glossary helps you save time, reduce costs, improve quality, and maintain consistency across all translation and localization projects. Translation memory, on the other hand, maintains consistent terminology and automatically “translates” repetitions in the text, saving time and money and improving the overall quality of the translation.

After each job for a client is completed, the custom glossaries and translation memory developed during the project are updated. This ensures that these tools are ready for use in subsequent projects, to maintain consistency across all translated documents, and to save costs by eliminating the need to re-translate previously translated passages.

Translation memory is not machine translation

Translation memory should not be confused with machine translation. There is nothing automatic about the TM, but it is the result of the work of a professional translator who has the ability to save everything he has translated over the years and use it as needed, based on the challenges posed by each new project.

Automatic translation, on the other hand, as the name suggests, does not require the intervention of a professional translator, but is an automatic process. Automatic translation occurs using special software that instantly converts an input text in the source language into an output text in the target language. At the same time, however, it does not guarantee a high-quality translation, as it is not able to perfectly capture the context or the semantic nuances of a text.

Will your next project make use of TM and glossaries?

When you work with a language translation agency with a solid reputation and great experience, you get more than just good quality translations. You will benefit from better prices, better communication and much more choice.

At LingoYou our project managers are at your disposal at any time to discuss the specifics of your project, so as to meet your every need. By choosing LingoYou, you will have a translation agency with proven experience on your side, ready to deploy all its excellence in the management of translation projects.

Marketing Team LingoYou

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