Alignment of translation means matching segments of text with their translated renditions.
When working in a Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) Tool environment, all translations are saved in aligned translation memory files, most commonly in TMX or XLIFF format. The unit of alignment is as chosen by the translator or as suggested by the CAT tool. However, texts translated outside of a CAT tool environment are not saved in aligned segment pairs and therefore cannot be used as translation memory in future translation work. Alignment is a process of matching source and target segments of text in order to create a translation memory. The purpose of alignment is to capture relations of equivalence or correspondence in a translation. Since there are many ways to achieve that, quality of alignment is a subjective matter, similar to quality of translation itself.
Alignment is helpful in making existing translations re-usable in future work, however it is a tedious process. Virtually all translation tools can automate alignment by applying pre-selected criteria to segment and align the source and target texts. However, all suggestions have to be manually verified, and often corrected. The segmentation parameters are typically punctuation and paragraph markers, repetitions, abbreviations and special characters such as numbers.
Find out more about this and other localization technology in our Automation technologies Ultimate Guide.