The Difference between a Translation Memory and Term Base (and how to use them correctly)

· 5 min read

Edit on 22nd July 2021: Autofill is now called Prefill. Check out this changelog entry here.

Localization Pros are familiar with the difference between a Translation Memory and Term Base as they work with these assets every day.

People who are new to the field of localization and translation might struggle to see the slight but essential differences between these two translation tools.

This blog post from LingoHub sheds light on the difference, usage and benefits of a Translation Memory and Term Base.

What is a Translation Memory?

A Translation Memory is a database consisting of previous translations that is characterized by the following functionalities.

  • It automatically learns from every word you translate along the path to a localized product.
  • A Translation Memory learns in real time.
  • Once you save a translation the Translation Memory memorizes it inevitably.
  • When translators work on similar texts in the future the Translation Memory suggests translations based on similarity (fuzzy or exact matches).

What are fuzzy Matches?

Fuzzy matches are suggestions from the Translation Memory System where texts match approximately (in LingoHub between 55% and 99% matches). They roughly suit a given text in terms of meaning and spelling. Translators profit from fuzzy matches because they are a great starting point to work out the final translation with less effort.

What are exact Matches?

As the phrase indicates exact matches suit the given text exactly (in LingoHub 100% matches). Exact matches are provided if the source texts of a past and future translation match completely. Thus, you can apply such exact matches without further changes.

What is a Term Base?

A Term Base or glossary is the primary asset for terminology management. It’s typically a centralized compilation of industry specific, company/product related and technical terms that you share within translation teams. A Term Base grows and changes alongside company growth and contains

  • source texts (terms),
  • approved translations,
  • context information (terms’ descriptions, definitions and clarifications), and
  • terms that are not to be translated but kept in the source language (e.g. brand or product names).


How do I use a Translation Memory?

In line with creating a localization project on LingoHub your personal Translation Memory is automatically created. The system adds all saved translations without assistance. If there is an existing Translation Memory from previous work you can easily import it in LingoHub.

LingoHub allows you to create multiple Translation Memories with custom settings. Plenty of Translation Memories will provide custom suggestions for specific projects.

There’s no need to update a Translation Memory manually. Source texts and corresponding translations are paired and hosted centrally. Once you update a translation LingoHub automatically updates the language pair in your Translation Memory System too.

Benefits of a Translation Memory

Reduce Translation Costs

Every time translators work on new texts the Translation Memory System searches for matching strings. Exact matches ultimately cut costs because translations are reused without adaption. Per-word translation costs decrease when matches are discovered.

LingoHub’s Autofill Prefill functionality automatically reuses matches from the Translation Memory for empty text segments. Translators don’t even have to reuse translations. The systems performs Autofill prefilling without assistance. Share texts across different dialects and languages with Autofill Prefill. LingoHub checks empty text segments in German (Austria) and automatically copies texts from German. Of course, this works for any language combination you specify.

"Translation costs shrink because the system performs lots of translation work to relieve your translators and project managers."

Reduce Translation Time

Usually you have common phrases and similar texts throughout corporate assets. Translation matches avoid unnecessary and redundant work because translators don't translate any texts twice.

"Translators can leverage Translation Memory suggestions to accelerate translation speed."

Increase Text Quality

Translation Memories are keepers of text quality and foster high-quality translations. Translators will translate matching phrases identically to ensure textual and vocal uniformity. They maintain linguistic consistency across past and future translations even if various translators work on your localization projects.

How do I use a Term Base?

When you create a Term Base you need to identify key terminology within your company. It’s important to use final source texts, approved translations and carefully researched context information to create a good Term Base.

Either create a Term Base in line with a new localization project or import an existing Term Base from previous translation work in LingoHub. Once created a Term Base needs some maintenance work to update changes in source texts, translations or context information. Translation quality might suffer if maintenance work is skipped.

Benefits of a Term Base

Eliminate Ambiguity

A Term Base represents a terminology guide for both employees (e.g. marketers, communication department etc.) and externals (e.g. freelance translators).

"A good Term Base eliminates ambiguity and helps translators to do their work for various clients in different industries."

Correct Usage and Spelling of Corporate Terminology

It’s in the very nature of language and translation that they’re subjective. A Term Base guarantees correct spelling of product or company names that are likely to be case sensitive (e.g. LingoHub). It also informs translators about words or phrases that are not to be translated but kept in the source language.

"A Term Base improves text quality through consistent usage and spelling of brands and corporate terms."

Accelerate Translation Speed

A well-kept Term Base eliminates the need of terminology research and reduces turnaround time. Translation work speeds up when translators don’t have to spend valuable time on research.

Comparison Sum Up

While a Translation Memory lacks of clarification of terms, a Term Base needs manual updates. It shouldn’t be a question of whether going with the one or the other.

Better go for both to work out high-quality translations with maximum efficiency. That’s why LingoHub offers a Translation Memory and Term Base to help our clients accelerating translation speed, cutting costs and improving linguistic consistency and quality. Convince yourself and try LingoHub free for 14 days!


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