What Is Machine Translation and Post-Editing?

Machine Translation

What Is Machine Translation and Post-Editing?

When it comes to translation, technology continues to improve. Machine translation has made it easier for people all around the world to communicate, reducing the impact of language barriers. However, machine translation still has a long way to go, as it can’t fully replicate a human translator’s expertise. Luckily, that’s where machine translation with post-editing comes into the equation. With post-editing, the accuracy of a translation increases dramatically.

If you are wondering what machine translation and post-editing are, the benefits and challenges of each part of the process, and how you can get the services you need, here’s what you need to know.

What Is Machine Translation?

In the simplest sense, machine translation involves a technology converting text or speech from one language to another. The process is automated and governed by the rules outlined in the programming.

One of the most widely known examples is Google Translate. However, the history of machine translation dates back much further.

The Benefits of Machine Translation

The most substantial benefit of machine translation is speed. The software converts the text or speech from one language to another using pre-programmed algorithms that can quickly process the information.

Often, machine translation can return translated text in mere seconds if the source material is short. Even with longer texts, it usually only takes several minutes.

The Challenges of Machine Translation

While the machine translation process may seem simple on the surface, it often isn’t. Languages have nuances that can be hard to capture. At times, machine translation struggles with syntax and grammar, for example, opting instead for a pure word-for-word approach that isn’t always accurate.

Additionally, there can be challenges when it comes to semantics. Often, how a word is used can have a significant impact on its implied meaning. Since machine translation technologies can’t assess the intended tone or the thought process behind the original text or speech’s creator, it can miss the mark.

In many cases, machine translation services aren’t equipped to handle newer words and phrases. While this usually isn’t an issue with formal documents, it can leave people wanting if the text or speech they are trying to translate is casual. Unless the service provider is constantly working on updating it’s database, it may be ill-equipped to translate emerging slang, internet shorthand, or similar informal forms of communication.

At times, machine translation services also have difficulties with highly technical or scientific information. Certain words and phrases aren’t widely used by the population at-large. Instead, only niche fields or professions use them regularly. In those cases, a broad machine translation service that’s targeted to the masses may not include those lesser-used words and phrases in its database.

Finally, machine translation can’t accurately identify sarcasm or inflections that may indicate humor or a tongue-in-cheek statement. Instead, machine translation is typically completely literal in its interpretation, which isn’t always ideal.

What Is Post-Editing?

Post-editing is when a person reviews translated text – usually the output of a machine translation service – to check for accuracy. Usually, a native or fluent speaker of the output language performs the review.

The Benefits of Post-Editing

While a machine translation can serve as a strong basis for a translation, even the most robust software often makes mistakes. When there’s an error, problems can arise.

For example, if the translated text is for a business website, a bad translation can harm the company’s credibility with people who speak that language. Inaccuracies may also give people the wrong impression about a product or service as there may accidentally be false claims simply because the language wasn’t accurate.

If the errors are on legal documents, the ramification can be incredibly severe. For instance, false statements on legal documents may be considered fraud in the eyes of the law.

Through post-editing, a person with expertise in the translation languages identifies errors and corrects them. They can ensure the translation reflects how that language is written or spoken, and can also look for statements that the machine translation service may have misinterpreted. It’s essentially a refinement process that aims to keep both the original content’s wording and intent intact.

The Challenges of Post-Editing

In most cases, post-editing’s biggest challenge is securing support from someone with the needed level of language expertise. Ideally, the post-editor will have fluency in both the source and target language. That way, they fully understand the text or speech.

Additionally, the post-editing specialist may need expertise in specific fields. For example, having a post-editor with strong knowledge of applicable laws and legal terminology is best for legal documents. They understand the nature of the information involved, allowing them to make edits more accurately.

Lastly, post-editing is not always 100 percent accurate.  It is a level higher than straight machine translation, however errors still do exist.  Typically, post editors can turnaround larger volumes of text and tend to focus on glaring mistakes.  In some instances, the cost benefit analysis of machine translation with post-editing may outweigh the higher cost of a certified translation.

Getting the Machine Translation and Post Editing Services You Need

Since post-editing machine translation involves machine translation services and the human touch, working with experts is best. That way, you’ll have support from translation professionals who can guarantee the output text’s accuracy.

Acutrans provides fast and reliable post-editing machine translation services for a variety of needs. Whether you need help with video captions, website copy, legal documents, technical manuals, or anything else, you can get the expertise you need without breaking the bank.