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28.05.2020

MACHINE TRANSLATION AND POST-EDITING ARE HERE TO STAY

MACHINE TRANSLATION AND POST-EDITING ARE HERE TO STAY

Machine Translation (MT) is not a new concept. It has been around since the 1950s, but has really taken a giant leap forward in recent years from being something entertaining, to being useful in a very narrow field of application, to seeing every-day use on both private and corporate scopes. Although its popularity has gone up and down, one thing is for sure: this time, it is here to stay. The main selling points of MT are simple: low costs when compared to manual translation and blazing-fast turnover speed. While a trained translator translates anywhere from 2000-2500 words per workday, an MT engine can do that amount in less than a minute. Furthermore, MT solution providers continue to promote that incorporating MT into your translation process can reduce costs by up to 70%, and that does not even account for the free MT engines out there, like translated.com (though be careful not to use free solutions to translate sensitive information like Statoil did in 2017).

Machine Translation as a quick solution

Companies use MT to quickly translate correspondence, in-house documentation, 3rd party content that the company is interested in (like foreign tender documentation) and, in some cases, even materials they publish to their clients and users (technical manuals, product descriptions). To those of you surprised by this: do not forget, according to Common Sense Advisory, a whopping 72.4% of consumers are more likely to buy products in their native language, and a machine translation in this case is better than no translation. These translations are by no means perfect and one type of text makes for a better result than another, but they do fit their purpose of letting the user get the gist of the content and in many cases would not be made any other way due to the relatively higher cost of manual translation.

However, there is a third option for those cases where MT output is not good enough, but full manual translation is either to slow or costly – Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE).

What is Machine Translation Post-Editing?

Using MTPE, you can get the best of both worlds: cost effectiveness and faster turnover times when compared to manual translation.

In post-editing, an experienced linguist edits the MT output in their native language, correcting any mistakes and inaccuracies that the engine’s algorithm might have made, to produce a completely readable final translation. In ideal scenarios, correcting MT output takes less time than manual translation, which means that post-editing certain types of text costs less than translating them, even after considering the cost of using the MT engine. Furthermore, with scalable MTPE solutions like ours, you can fine-tune the cost/quality ratio to your needs. Need a fast translation to just understand the highlights? Order light post-editing with lower costs and more robust machine-level translation quality. Need a perfect, print-ready translation, order full post editing and receive an impeccable translation and, depending on the language and document type, still save anywhere from 5 to 30% compared to manual translation costs.

To put it simply, intelligent use of MTPE produces good quality content at a fraction of the cost and time required for traditional translation processes.

Machine Translation is only a part of the process

A key piece of information that MT solution providers usually leave out of their case studies is that MT and MTPE are rarely used alone and that the best results are achieved with specially-trained MT engines, which have been fed thousands upon thousands of similar translations for it to learn from. To maximize leverage, MT and MTPE are used in conjunction with Translation Memory (TM) solutions and Terminology Databases or Termbases (TB). Only in this combination, can one hope to reach the levels of cost saving MT providers promote, especially in combination with languages that are not among the 100 most popular (and thus with not as precise MT engines), like our own Latvian.

LMI Translations offers professional and scalable Machine Translation Post-Editing

If you want to find out if you can save costs and increase translation speed by taking advantage of MT technology, let us know today. Using our years of experience and translation know-how, we will do our best to tailor a custom solution that will be perfect for your company.

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