Professional translation as we know it can be quite arduous, as well as expensive. Providing a language service the right way requires resources and expertise. Document length, domain, and complexity will determine the project’s proper turnaround time, priorities, workload, and requirements. And therefore, its cost.
Luckily, modern translation teams rely on tools that shift their priorities away from small details and give them the time and information they need to concentrate on more important aspects of the translation project. For example, how a metaphor or cultural reference can be adapted to convey a certain meaning for the new target audience.
The adoption of machine translation in the translation services space gave origin to a new solution: Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE). This service consists of taking an automated translation and fine-tuning it so it meets the industry’s high quality standards.
In this article, we will uncover what MTPE projects are about and some best practices that guide our work.
What Is MTPE?
MTPE combines speed, low costs, and robust terminology management with the cultural and technical know-how of expert translators, providing the best of both worlds.
So, how does it work? Well, for starters, the source text is automatically translated by an advanced MT engine. However, as you might have guessed, MTs are not refined enough yet for us to get quality translation out of it, even though technology has come a long way in the last decades.
Consequently, nuances, specific words, and cultural aspects -among others- get lost in the process, resulting in a text that’s raw, mechanical, and hard to relate with.
This is where human linguists’ work begins. But that’s not their first intervention. Actually, before the text gets to be autotranslated, they are in charge of feeding the translation memory of the Computer-assisted Translation tools (CAT tools) with high-quality references. They do so by providing it with information that plays a role in the subject matter at hand and can help sharpen the MT engine beforehand. For instance, discipline-specific glossaries.
Once the text is translated, post-editing takes place. Experts correct and improve the MT output, in order to make it sound natural and ensure that the essence of the original text is maintained. In other words, post-editors bring back the human touch that MT lost along the way.
Light vs. Full Post Editing
Although MTPE is a practical option, it’s worth mentioning that, just as traditional translation, it also has its own set of variables that will determine quality, time, and cost. Depending on the quality of the MT engine and the characteristics of the text, the human translation team will need to provide light or full post-editing.
Let’s take a closer look:
As you might be able to tell by the name, light post-editing is rather superficial work. When performing light post-editing, editors will only address semantics and spelling, in addition to checking that there’s no room for misunderstanding in the output text. However, they will not go into deep detail, which is good if you want the job to get done rapidly.
Keeping this in mind, light post-editing is the lower-cost option, and it’s perfect for projects that don’t demand great precision. For instance, light post-editing could be performed on the automated translation of documents that are meant for internal communication rather than for publication.
Full post-editing, on the other hand, aims for an output that’s every bit as good as human translation. It does not only correct semantics and spelling, but it will also focus on writing style, linguistic expressions, and structure. In comparison to light post-editing, it is more time-consuming, and therefore, more expensive. But, as an MT engine does the heavy lifting, even full MTPE rates are more cost-effective than an artisanal approach. Full post machine editing leaves no room for mistakes and ensures the highest translation quality possible.
Your needs could be addressed by either of these translation solutions, and to pick which one of them is a better way to go will depend on your demands and the requirements of your project. Light post-editing is great for in-company communication, whereas full post-editing is ideal for ambitious localization projects, legal documents, and medical papers. Nevertheless, before deciding which service is best for you, it’s always preferable to speak with an experienced professional who can assess your project in detail.
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4 Benefits of MTPE for Expanding Businesses
As we already mentioned, no currently available MT engine is sharp enough to provide the high-quality results you can expect from human translators. Thankfully, we can count on this marvelous hybrid called MTPE to get reliable translations while enjoying all the benefits of automation. In this section, we’ll take a closer look at these benefits.
1- Economic Efficiency
There is an old saying that goes “time is money”, and language services are no exception to this rule. The first benefit of implementing MT and MTPE is an economic one. MT engines don’t provide a market-ready translation, but a foundation for the translators to work upon, reducing the number of hours they’ll have to spend on your project.
2- High Quality
In MTPE, MT engines are not just working by themselves. In parallel, highly-trained professionals are supervising and correcting. Even though the project is indeed carried out in a briefer period of time, in comparison to a human translation, the quality factor is not undermined. The results are always natural and fresh.
3- You Can Get More Done
If now you can get a project done in less time, then it’s no surprise that you can fit more initiatives into your agenda. For marketing & communication teams, for instance, MTPE can reduce the time it takes to launch an ambitious campaign. For internationally expanding businesses, MTPE can significantly reduce time-to-market.
4- You Can Reach Further
By reducing the time it takes to produce a high-quality translation, MTPE makes it possible for your product to be translated into more languages than before, within a relatively reduced time span.
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5 Essential MTPE Best Practices
But, how can translation teams make sure clients enjoy all the aforementioned advantages? In this section, we’ll share 5 best practices we implement during MTPE projects.
1- Take a Look at the Original Text
During an MTPE project, mistakes could come along. Mistakes made by the MT engine are to be expected. And, even when expert human translators are in charge, some flaws could slip by. Still, not all of them will necessarily derive from the translation process itself. Sometimes, the errors can actually come from the source text. This is why it is well-advised for translators to first check the original text to ensure that there are no mistakes that can affect its clarity. And, once that is done, they can proceed to translate.
As with all best practices, this piece of advice should be applied discretionary. If the source material in question is an academic article from an author with a notoriously serpentine or baroque writing style, dealing with ambiguity and complexity will be an unavoidable part of the translation process.
2- Don’t Get Meticulous if It Isn’t Necessary
As you know, the post-editing process should get just as detailed as it needs to be. Over-stylistic edits just take more time, and sometimes they are not really worth it, especially if not requested by the client. What matters the most is for the output text to convey what the original one meant. Translators should always keep that in mind and work accordingly.
3- Feed the Translation Memory Properly
Your CAT Tool needs as much information as possible to give you the best results it’s capable of. If you provide it with a rich library of industry-specific terminology, and other assistive data, there are high chances for amazing MT performance. Plus, this will make the post-editing process far lighter.
4- Appreciate the Client’s Unique Expertise
Even though translators are highly trained and know almost every trick of the book when it comes to languages, they might not be experts in a particular subfield or product. Therefore, an exchange with the client about contextual information is fundamental.
Teams at the best translation services providers are coordinated by proactive project managers who will make the most out of every client interaction, anticipate their team’s needs, and ask for relevant information whenever necessary.
5- Build on the Editors’ Feedback
Editors are the ones dealing with the MT engine output, and hence with the first raw sample of the translation. As they go through the post-editing process, they can tell the quality of the machine translation, as well as which errors come up most frequently.
For this reason, they are a good source for feedback if you are looking to optimize your tools. Furthermore, they can also help to tailor systematic solutions for those frequent mistakes, streamlining the post-editing process of any future projects. Quality assurance is machine translation’s best compliment.
Combining Cutting-Edge Technology & Human Expertise
The Human Translation vs. Machine Translation dichotomy has been a topic of debate in the language industry for decades. As years went by, Machine Translation Post Editing took over, leaving artisanal human translation behind. The world is changing, and technology is taking the spotlight. Thus, the execution of a translation project is becoming faster, more cost-efficient, and more predictable. Today, translation does not only require deep language knowledge and expertise, but also the best technology available.
We know that all of this can sound a bit overwhelming, especially if you’ve never needed translation services before. At bayantech we are glad to guide you through the process.
We’re a leading translation company, with almost two decades of experience. We’ve proudly carried out projects for top-tier brands across the MENA region and beyond and met their expectations every single time.
We distinguish ourselves for offering the latest and most efficient cutting-edge translation technologies, in addition to a team of highly trained native-speaker experts and innovation-driven engineers. All that and more, at extremely competitive rates.