Post-editing of machine translations


Just like in other professions, the influence of computers on the world of translation continues to increase. Not so long ago Google Translate would produce hilarious translations, but since the arrival of Neural Machine Translation, machine translation has come on in leaps and bounds. Google Translate is certainly the most famous, but not the best translation machine by any means. Various new translation machines are constantly coming out. For some language combinations, one machine might work better than another, and this also applies to different subject areas. There are special translation machines for the auto industry and for software translations, for example.

Here at Noorderlicht Translation Agency, we embrace using these latest technological developments for suitable texts.

Types of texts

For some texts, the use of machine translation as a concept version can save considerably in time. This is especially true for non-creative texts, where the transfer of information is the most important objective. For a website, publication, marketing campaign or advertising text on the other hand, machine translation is not suitable: the emotion disappears and sentences are often translated far too literally.

Why would you not try translating your texts yourself, using Google Translate?

You could certainly have a go. However, Google Translate is far from perfect. And like when travelling by plane, even though we all have confidence in the autopilot, it’s very reassuring that the pilot and co-pilot are still there in the cockpit to fly the plane and keep an eye on everything. In the same way, the result of a machine translation will be considerably better if one of our professionals work on it. First of all, we know which translation machines are best suited to certain languages, and to what area of expertise. We can even get different translation machines to work on your text at the same time and choose the most suitable variant of each sentence. Second, we are trained to recognise the pitfalls of machine-translated texts. We know where we have to watch out, and where we have to make adjustments in order to achieve a good final result.

So what else do we do then?

For us, a machine translation is only the concept version, the basis from which the translator drafts a final version. Hence we use machine translations mainly as an aid. Using machine translation can save considerable time with certain texts when compared with traditional translation. This is why we do not calculate the rate of payment for this service by word, but always by hour.

How much time we need depends on a few things. First of all, the quality of the machine translation, naturally. The quality is usually connected with the suitability of the text for machine translation, the language combination and the subject matter. Sometimes the machine translation is already quite good, but illogical sentences can often occur, or specific terminology is not used correctly. We check the text for the terminology used sentence by sentence, comparing the source and the target text.

Second, the time we need for finishing the text depends on what you want to do with it. If the purpose of the translation is (only) to understand approximately what the text is about, then a light finish is all that's needed. The result is neither beautiful nor free of errors, but understandable. We agree what types of error need to be improved, and which ones are acceptable. In this way we can process your order quickly and you can save considerable costs compared to a traditional translation. Please take into consideration that while the result is readable and understandable, this will still read like a machine translation. To give you an idea of what this means, think about the texts of reviews on hotel sites, or the help pages of certain large tech companies.

By contrast, if the result of the translation must be just as good as a translation not generated by a machine, then of course this will take considerably more time. Our translators will craft more beautiful and creative sentences and ensure they are pleasant to read and have a natural flow, so that they no longer read like a machine translation.

Would you like to know more about how you can save on your translation costs in this way? Then contact us for a quote aan.