Machine Translation Post-Editing: The Ultimate Solution

Posted by Rachel Varnergardner on January 30, 2015

MT_imageHere’s the situation: you’ve got TONS of text that needs translation (tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands of words) but there isn’t room in your budget for the higher cost of “standard” translation, and you’re faced with an expedited timeline. Most likely, under such circumstances, the traditional human translation process simply isn’t feasible.

Machine translation (MT) engines can translate large quantities of data in minutes or hours, and for a fraction of the cost. However, most of us have seen some comical examples of the sub-par translations produced by any of the free online MT solutions. Gibberish certainly isn't an acceptable form of communication!
Fortunately, the quality of customized, trained MT engines has come a long way, and for certain content, it’s the perfect option. When MT is supplemented with extensive industry-specific Translation Memories and Glossaries (e.g. Life Sciences, IT, Electronics, Medical Devices, Automotive), along with a human post-editing touch, your desired linguistic quality is within reach.

The most critical step to improving the quality of your MT results is through the post-editing process. To benefit from “the best of both worlds”, you would first run your content through MT software and then arrange for a professional translator to perform post-editing. This way, a human expert will enhance the quality by correcting grammar, terminology and punctuation, among other issues.

Industry-wide, there are two post-editing conventions:

Light post-editing consists of:

-          Post-editor addressing overt readability issues, so the user can understand

-          Modifying confusing or unintelligible sentences

-          Checking for consistency of key terminology

These translations could be used for in-house purposes, or for discovery, and are not intended for publication. The post-editor will not take style into account, and will only fix the most critical errors. The goal is to gain a good enough “gist” of the content.

Full post-editing consists of:

-          Post-editor polishing to human translation level of quality

-          Verifying complete accuracy and consistency of key terminology

-          Editing for cohesive style

These translations are intended for publication and should match the same level of quality as those performed by humans. Full post-editing is much more involved, but produces a polished translation that can reliably be utilized in many more scenarios.

Why request post-editing?

  •          More cost effective for translating large volumes, as opposed to standard translation
  •          Faster than translating from scratch
  •          Increased productivity and accuracy
  •          Can achieve publishable quality

Machine translation alone cannot be a replacement for content that requires the highest quality human translation, but with the assistance of a post-editor to correct and modify in detail, the full MT process becomes a viable solution!

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Topics: Translation, Machine Translation, Translation Technology