12/05/2023 /Category

Maximizing Efficiency in the Localization Industry with Machine Translation and Translation Memory Integration

In the modern world, businesses of all kinds really need to play their cards right regarding their products and services to reach diverse markets. However, this can be a very difficult and expensive process, especially when dealing with a much different and larger pool of people and cultures. Luckily, technology can help! Machine Translation (MT) and Translation Memory (TM) are two powerful tools that can enhance localization quality, boost efficiency, and reduce costs. MT uses computer algorithms to translate text automatically, while TM stores previously translated content for future use. Together, they make an unstoppable team. In this article, we'll explore how MT and TM work together to help businesses thrive in a global market.

The Relationship Between Machine Translation and Translation Memory

There is no doubt that today, businesses need to connect with more people than ever imagined 20 years ago. However, creating content that resonates with different cultures can be a daunting task, especially when dealing with language barriers. Enter Machine Translation (MT) and Translation Memory (TM), two dynamic tools that can help businesses navigate these challenges.

MT is like having a digital translator at your fingertips. It uses sophisticated algorithms to automatically translate text from one language to another. While it's a time-saving and cost-effective solution, it can struggle to capture the nuances and idiosyncrasies of a language that a human translator might. That's where TM comes in. It's like a vast library of previously translated content that can be used as a reference for future projects, ensuring consistency and quality across all translations.

What makes MT and TM such a formidable team is their ability to work in harmony. MT can quickly translate new content, while TM stores these translations for future use, creating an efficient workflow. Moreover, when there is no pre-existing translation available, MT can be used to fill in the gaps in TM, creating a powerful combination of speed, accuracy, and consistency.

There are several examples of successful integration between MT and TM in the localization industry. SDL Trados, for instance, is a popular translation software that offers a seamless integration between the two tools. By leveraging the power of MT and TM, SDL Trados has created a one-stop-shop for businesses looking to simplify their localization process.

Similarly, Lionbridge, a global leader in translation and localization, has used MT and TM in conjunction with human translators to streamline their localization services. This approach has allowed Lionbridge to offer scalable, high-quality translation services to their clients without sacrificing accuracy or efficiency. More on that later.

Lionbridge Success Story

Lionbridge is a global leader in translation and localization services, and they have been leveraging the power of MT and TM in their workflow for some time now.

One of the ways they have used these tools is by integrating MT with their human translators. Lionbridge's MT system is unique in that it is trained on a specific client's content, meaning that the translations produced are tailored to the client's specific brand and voice. By having their human translators work in conjunction with MT, Lionbridge can deliver high-quality translations while also maintaining efficiency.

Another way that Lionbridge has utilized TM is by creating customized glossaries for each client. These glossaries contain industry-specific terminology and preferred translations, ensuring consistency across all translations. By using TM in this way, Lionbridge can ensure that each translation is not only accurate but also consistent with the client's branding and messaging.

Lionbridge's use of technology and human expertise in tandem has allowed them to scale their localization services without sacrificing quality. They have worked with a wide range of clients across various industries, including technology, healthcare, and finance.

Expert Insights on Translation Memory

To further understand the significance of translation memory and neural machine translation systems, we were fortunate to interview Xin Cheng, one of the researchers and authors of "Neural Machine Translation with Contrastive Translation Memories," who gave us his personal insights and opinions in hopes that it will help people know more about translation memory. We wrote below the Q&A that occurred in our interview.

Q: How can translation memory (TM) be used to enhance the quality of machine translation (MT)?

A: Long before the machine translation, the localization industry has been proposing Fuzzy Matching technology to help the human translator to access similar translation pairs for higher productivity and consistency. Luckily, this holds true not only for human translators but also for machine translation models, especially deep learning-based neural network models. By incorporating TM into the traditional Seq2Seq neural machine translation (NMT), the TM-augmented NMT model would give higher quality translations and a more consistent translation style, and this kind of model would better generalize to unseen domains. Also, TM could help the NMT model learn and converge faster. 

Q: What are the key benefits of using TM and MT together in a localization workflow?

A: I believe the key benefit of using TM and MT together would be 1) higher translation quality, 2) more consistent translation style, 3) faster training speed, 4) better interpretability for the black-box NN model, and 5) better generalization and update ability for the up-to-date translation system.

Q: How might the implementation of Translation Memory (TM) in Machine Translation (MT) technologies affect the translation industry, and can you provide any real-world examples of their successful integration into localization workflows?

A: Incorporating TM into the real-world translation system is a challenging task in that it needs an additional retrieval step, which is time-consuming and could be a system bottleneck, and I believe the next step for TM-augmented translation to be applicable in the real world would be to solve the efficiency problem.


As we come to the end of our journey exploring the fascinating relationship between Machine Translation (MT) and Translation Memory (TM), it's clear that these two tools are the perfect match for improving localization quality. The power of technology combined with human expertise is truly a force to be reckoned with.

Looking towards the future, the possibilities for MT and TM in localization are endless. With the rapid advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, MT is becoming more sophisticated and accurate by the day. It's exciting to think about the potential impact this will have on the localization industry.

Additionally, TM will continue to be a critical tool in streamlining the localization process, allowing businesses to save time and money while maintaining consistency and quality across all translations. By building customized glossaries and translation memories, businesses can ensure that their brand messaging is clear and consistent, no matter where in the world it's being communicated.

However, it's important to remember that MT and TM are not a panacea for all localization challenges. Human translators bring a level of cultural understanding and nuance to the table that machines simply can't match. By leveraging the strengths of both technology and human expertise, businesses can achieve the perfect balance of efficiency and quality in their localization efforts.

As we continue to evolve and innovate in the field of localization, there's no doubt that MT and TM will play an increasingly important role. The future looks bright, and we're excited to see where this perfect match takes us.