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Machine Translation vs. Machine Translation Post-editing

Posted by Anne Q. on September 25, 2020.

As your company enters a new foreign market and invests in translation and localization, you might face a variety of choices for translation services, from traditional to machine translations. To balance between light-speed results and low costs, machine translation is the top priority of numerous companies. For better quality, some use machine translation post-editing services. So what exactly are machine translation and machine translation post-editing? Which one is the right choice for you?

In today’s post, we will discuss the differences between these two types of translations to find out the answers.


What is Machine Translation?

Machine Translation is a tool or software that translates text automatically from one language to another with no human involved during the whole translation process. Some examples of machine translation tools are Google Translate, Bing Translate, or Yandex Translate (Free tools) and DeepL Translator or PROMT (Paid tools).

Machine Translation Post-editing


      • Quick – The most notable advantage of machine translation is the ability to produce the translations immediately. You can receive the results after only a few seconds.
      • Easy to operate – All you have to do is to import/paste the documents you need translating into the tool, choose the language pair, and wait for the translations.
      • Low cost – You can easily find numerous free machine translation tools on the Internet. Some famous names are Google Translate, Linguee, iTranslate, etc. In case you have high volume or frequent projects, purchasing paid machine tools is a cheap solution compared to hiring professional translators. You can try the premium versions of DeepL Translator, PROMT, etc.



      • Machine translation lacks understanding of nuance, tone, sarcasm, humour, etc. Thus, the final products are likely to be unnatural and inorganic.
      • Machine translation cannot guarantee a consistent brand voice for your company.
      • In general, the quality of translation is not even. It depends a lot on the complexity of each project.


What is Machine Translation Post-editing?

Machine Translation Post-editing is a mixture of machine translation and human translation. The process includes two main steps. First, the source documents are translated by machine translation tools. It will be then edited and reviewed by a human professional linguist to eliminate possible mistakes relating to word choices, flow, and culture factors, helping the translation sound smoother and more natural.


      • With the involvement of human linguists in the second step, the quality of the translations can be improved significantly, especially in terms of clarity and flow.
      • Cultural sensitivity is taken into consideration, making sure that your documents are socially acceptable.
      • Compared to traditional translation, this option saves companies a great deal of time and costs.



      • Machine translation post-editing requires a longer turnaround time in comparison to machine translation only.
      • The overall quality of the final products relies heavily on the quality of the first step – machine translation. Thus, the final products are far from great like human translations.


When to use Machine Translation and Machine Translation Post-editing?

Machine Translation should only be used for internal communication materials, low-priority messages or for basic comprehension of a document.

Machine Translation Post-editing products can be used for public-facing documents as the content is reviewed by a professional linguist who pays attention to culturally sensitive aspects and terminologies to guarantee overall accuracy and consistency.

If you need better quality translations for your blog posts, packaging inserts, etc., then you should take a step further. After the Machine Translation Post-editing process, another linguist should get involved to do the quality assurance (QA) step. With this choice, your documents are likely to be ready to publish.

However, with creative content namely slogans, headlines, brand names, etc. machine translation and post-editing steps cannot guarantee an excellent income. Therefore, using 100% human translators come highly recommended.