30 Mar 2010

Machine Translation & Post-Editing


There was buzz all over the web a couple of weeks ago after Google’s reported advances in the area of Machine Translation were reported in the New York Post.

With the resources of the mighty G behind it, it appears to be just a matter of time before Machine Translation is perfect. But we’ve heard that before…

Machine Translation + Post-Editing’ is mentioned more and more in the translation industry; a mixture of Machine output and professional human editors. It’s obviously appealing to translation buyers who want things cheaper and faster, and now that Google is involved they are better informed about Machine Translation.

Our team regularly tests Google’s machine translated output to check how it’s progressing, and to see if it’s good enough to make it worth us applying this process.

Here’s what we find:


• Google Translate is the only free machine translation tool that has better than completely terrible output. You can try Google Translate to get free translations on our website.
• There are some other tools like Systran, which are good but expensive
• Google deals with some languages a lot better than others
• There are still so many errors that most texts need retranslation
• It can translate ‘Hi, how are you?’ very well, but for professional documents its not so hot


• The Machine output can mislead revisers 
• Generally the level of re-working required negates any advantage gained by replacing human with machine


Improvements in this field seem inevitable with Google’s activity, but for now the machine output is not good enough for it to be widely adopted across the professional translation industry. That is bound to change with time though, as the technology improves, and it is certainly something not to be ignored.

The closest we came to using Machine Translation & Post-editing was on a huge project (5.5 million words in 5 weeks…) for high value web content that needed to be online quickly to tie in with offline advertising. In the end we came up with a new approach, to meet the deadline, without using automated translation, and maintaining top quality.

If you’re interested in more information on this then please just let me know – matt.train@translatemedia.com.


Sign up to our newsletter

Get our blog articles straight to your inbox.