Save time and money with machine translation post-editing

Robot against human. The eternal dispute among translators. Well, it’s time to strike that. 

With machine translation post-editing (MTPE), the language industry is finally overcoming the eternal struggle of man versus machine. It’s welding a partnership. It’s giving us robot and human. 

A faster turnover and better cost efficiency make MTPE an increasingly alluring pick. But it isn’t a fit choice for all types of content.  So what is it, and how can you benefit from it? 

Read on. Or ask your R2-D2 to read it out to you.

Machine translation: and old technology with breakthrough improvements in recent years

Machine translation is not a new kid on the block. But only recently, it’s washed off the smirch of delivering faulty (and often funny) translations. This improvement happened mostly to a revolutionary technology called Neural Machine Translation

Today, machine translations can process huge bulks of text and produce a decent translation output in a matter of minutes. 

But decent is often not good enough. Pure machine translation can still feel clanky, unnatural. That’s why it gets coupled with a human process.

Post-editing: making the metal sound like music

As the name suggests, post-editors check the machine’s output and tweak it depending on its final use.

Light post-editing makes the text coherent and error-free, with minimal human intervention. 

It’s perfect for rush jobs and non client-facing documents.

Full post-editing refines the text further. It makes the translation stylistically appropriate, as well. This means swapping words with more powerful synonyms, changing the syntax, and giving rhythm to the text. This option is more human-heavy (ergo more expensive), so it’s appropriate for client-facing content. 

Can MTPE replace human-only translations across the board?

The benefits of MTPE cannot be ignored. In some cases, it can save you up to 50% and quadruple the turnover time. With a thorough post-editing process, MTPE can bring significant savings in a variety of content. But there are a few caveats.

MT Engines are not equally efficient for all language pairs

While it works perfectly with some language pairs, we’ve seen that machine translation is still glitchy when it comes to other language pairs. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use MTPE. It just means that the machine translation will require a heavier post-editing process, resulting in less cost- and time- efficiency.

Creative content is still best translated by a human

When your message contains specific cultural notions, puns, and wordplay, humans beat the machine by a long shot. In other words, what you get out of machine translation requires so much human editing that it simply isn’t worth the while. So keep your marketing collaterals, website copy, and social media posts in the hands of someone with a pair of eyes and whose name isn’t spelled in digits. 

Drop us a line and find out how your next translation project can benefit from MTPE, too.