Baobab Tech Solutions, Translation  |  June 16, 2023

A Paradigm Shift in Machine Translation: Leveraging Embeddings as Translation Memory

Updated February 26, 2024


Machine translation faces challenges in accuracy and context preservation across languages. Traditional methods have been slow and expensive, but advancements in language models, particularly through embedding and vector databases, promise significant improvements. Baobab Tech's new method enhances efficiency and context sensitivity in translation.

The Translation Vector Database: Core of Innovation

At the center of this new method is the 'Translation Vector Database,' storing hundreds of thousands of vector embeddings. These embeddings, representing words, phrases, or sentences in multidimensional space, capture semantic meanings and are key to our advanced translation technique. The database has two parts: a general translation memory and a task-specific vector database, allowing for adaptable translation processes.

The Translation Process: Bridging Languages Semantically

In practical use, the system creates or uses existing vector embeddings from professionally translated documents. These embeddings, linked to translations in the target language, build a semantic bridge between languages without needing exact matches.

Retrieval-Augmented Translation

This approach is based on the hypothesis that large language models can significantly improve translations by using these detailed vector embeddings. This method, known as 'retrieval-augmented generation,' enhances model output by fetching contextually relevant embeddings.

Expanding Context Windows

Recent developments have expanded language models' context windows, greatly enhancing their ability to consider more information and improve translation accuracy and context sensitivity. For instance, models now feature context windows ranging from 16,000 to over 1 million tokens.

Beyond Conventional Limits

For new translations, the system identifies relevant embeddings that inform on tone, context, and terminology. These serve as a style guide, glossary, and memory, ensuring translations are accurate, context-aware, and stylistically aligned.

Novel Approach in Machine Translation

Implementing this method could markedly advance machine translation, improving accuracy, context sensitivity, and resource efficiency by utilizing vector embeddings and professionally translated texts as references.

Comparing with traditional approaches

Traditional TMX Systems

Translation Memory (exchange) systems have been the base of machine translation and localization workflows for decades. They operate on a relatively simple principle: storing and retrieving exact or fuzzy matches of text segments (like sentences or phrases) from a database of previously translated content. This approach facilitates consistency and speeds up the translation of repetitive texts, significantly reducing the workload for human translators. However, TMX systems have limitations:

  1. Static Matching: They rely on exact or near-exact matches, which can be limiting in cases where contextual or semantic understanding is necessary for an accurate translation.
  2. Limited Context Sensitivity: Traditional TMX systems may not adequately account for the broader context, leading to translations that are technically correct but lack nuance or are inappropriate in certain contexts.
  3. Resource Intensiveness: Building and maintaining a comprehensive TMX database requires significant effort and resources, as each new translation must be manually reviewed and added to the database.

Our Vector Embeddings Approach

The approach proposed by Baobab Tech introduces several innovations that address the limitations of TMX systems:

  1. Dynamic Semantic Matching: Instead of relying on static text segments, this method uses vector embeddings to represent the semantic essence of text segments. This allows for more flexible and context-sensitive matching, as the system can identify semantically similar translations even if the exact words are not used.
  2. Enhanced Context Sensitivity: By utilizing large language models with extended context windows, the system can incorporate a broader range of information, leading to translations that are not only accurate but also contextually appropriate.
  3. Efficient Use of Resources: The method transforms professionally translated documents into a rich, context-sensitive memory base. This not only optimizes the use of existing translations but also leverages the advancements in language model technology to reduce the need for manual intervention in creating and maintaining the database.


Baobab Tech's innovative use of vector embeddings and LLMs represents a significant leap forward in machine translation, offering a dynamic, efficient, and context-aware alternative to traditional methods. This approach leverages existing translations for more accurate and stylistically consistent outputs, promising new research and application possibilities. Transitioning to this system requires careful consideration of technical and resource needs to fully realize its benefits.

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