Translation costs are often unavoidable, especially in global organisations where there is a need for a consistent global voice. In this post we explain translation memory technology and how it saves businesses and NGOs money on translation.

As naturally diverse organisations, some NGOs and global companies have language capabilities in house and manage their translations internally. However, there may be times when you need to employ the services of a Language Service Provider (LSP) as busy employees may not always have the time to take on large-scale or complicated translation projects. 

If you find yourself needing the services of a LSP, don’t despair; there are many benefits including stress-free translations, quicker turnaround times and higher volume capacity. Another benefit is Translation Memory. This technology has saved some of our clients tens of thousands of pounds – more on that later.

What is translation memory?

Translation memory is a linguistic database that stores previously translated text. It’s used alongside computer-assisted translation (CAT) systems that aid the process of translation. A translation memory is basically a continually evolving digital library that contains all the translations ever created for an organisation. Translation memory allows a translator to re-use any of the text segments that have been translated before.

Translation memory helps to reduce cost, increase consistency and lower turnaround time.
Matt Bird
Senior Project Manager

Is this machine translation, like Google Translate? 

Absolutely not. Translation memory and machine translation are very different. Instead of replacing the human, translation memory tools work with the human translator. Everything still has to be translated by a human at least once – the benefit is that once something has been translated, it never needs to be translated again. Translation memory makes this possible.

What about confidentiality? 

We treat all client translations and information with strict confidence, and translation memories are no exception. TM data is unique to each client and is securely stored on our servers. Any content stored is exclusively yours and is never shared. 

How do translation memories and computer-assisted translation tools add value?

This technology delivers three main benefits (hover for more information):

When can translation memory be used?

Translation memories can be developed for almost all translations. TMs are assets that build over time – the more that’s fed in, the more that can be used in future – so they are particularly beneficial for organisations with a regular translation requirement.

Computer-assisted translation is the wider technology that includes the tools that build translation memories. CAT tools also allow us to discount for repetitions within the same or other files, even if we haven’t translated them yet.

This technology is an integral part of our process and we do not charge extra for it. It’s a free service that adds huge value, saving clients money and ensuring translations are always consistent. 

How are savings calculated?

Costs are discounted when there is repeated or TM content. Before translation, documents are analysed to shows the number of matches. Sometimes these matches are exact, sometimes they’re partial (we call these fuzzy matches). 

Here’s a real-life example…

A higher discount is applied to exact matches, as these only need to be checked in context and not retranslated. Partial/fuzzy matches get partial discounts, as the text needs greater linguist intervention. 

How translation memory saved Oxfam thousands of pounds


Oxfam GB, a long-standing client of Sure Languages, asked us to translate a large number of documents with more than 300,000 words. 

As the files contained a lot of repetitions, the number of effort words reduced from 300k to 210k, saving £9,000. We also leveraged translation memory content that saved Oxfam a further £6,000!

Number of files 400
Total words that needed translating 300,000
Words to be translated after discounting for repetitions across the files 210,000
(saving around £9k)
Words to be translated after translation memory analysis (utilising previous translations) 149,000
(saving a further £6k)
Total budget saved thanks to TM and repetition savings £15k
Translation time saved 75 working days

We had a huge, very complex translation project, with a tight deadline. But thanks to Sure Languages’  expert approach, we were able to save a lot of time and budget, whilst ensuring consistency throughout the project, as they built and applied translation memories with previously translated content.

Oxfam GB
Oxfam GB


Does your NGO need help with translation?

We appreciate not-for-profit organisations have to do more for less. This is why charities and NGOs get our professional translation at a discounted price. Contact the team or visit our charity translation page for more information.

For all other businesses, you’ll also get the best cost-saving technology at a fair and honest price. Guaranteed.