GTE Localize

How Machine Translation Post-Editing Helps You Overcome Challenges that Machine Translation Can’t?

Posted by Anne Q. on December 15, 2021.

Even though machine translation has evolved quickly and brings greater translation quality, solely focusing on it might not be a wise choice, especially when it comes to important external content. Some of the challenges posed by machine translation can be solved by getting human translators involved in the process. This process is called machine translation post-editing (MTPE).

In this post, we will discuss the concept of MTPE and emphasize how MTPE can help you achieve great translation quality that MT can’t.

What is Machine Translation Post-Editing?

Machine translation post-editing is a hybrid translation solution that combines machine translation and human translation. There are two major steps in the MTPE process:

First, machine translation (MT) is used to translate the source documents. Machine translation engines (MTE) are tools or software that automatically translates text from one language to another with no human intervention. Google Translate, Yandex Translate, Bing Translate, DeepL Translator, or SYSTRAN Translate are some MTEs that are widely used nowadays.

Machine Translation

There are four main types of machine translation – Statistical MT, Rule-based MT, Hybrid MT, and Neural MT. In this step, you need to make a decision on which type of machine translation to use for your translation projects. Factors such as project budget, language pairs, content complexity, and content purposes should be taken into consideration when you decide.

Second, the translation generated from MT will be reviewed and edited by human professional linguists. The aim is to eliminate errors in word choice, flow, and cultural factors that MT cannot cover.

Human Translator


Whey Soley Using MT Might Not Be Enough?

Regardless of how advanced machine translation has become, there are still various problems you will face if you only it for your translation projects:

#1. MT doesn’t understand cultural nuances

No matter how sophisticated MT becomes, it will never be able to fully capture cultural aspects such as sarcasm, idioms and jokes.

In addition, as languages continue to evolve, new words and phrases emerge. Even old words can acquire new meanings over time and are frequently not used in the same way that they were in previous years. Of course, MT can be trained to update new words and expressions. However, this process takes time while language changes every day.


#2. MT can’t guarantee consistent brand voice

Translations generated automatically cannot flexibly change to match your company’s writing tones and styles which determine the brand voice. Even within a document, you can still find inconsistency in the tones and styles.


#3. MT quality depends on many factors

In general, the quality of translations by MT varies based on many factors. One factor is the type of MT you use. Each type of MT generates different results. For example, if you need to translate two Latin-based languages that share many similarities in grammar and syntax, statistical MT is a quite good choice. But for language pairs with many differences, it will produce very poor quality. Another type of MT such as Neural MT should be used in this case.

The quality also relies on the type of content. MT can handle simple and general content quite well. However, the same level of quality cannot be guaranteed for complex and technical text.


How MTPE Helps You Overcome Challenges that Machine Translation Can’t?

By taking another step – human editing, you can overcome the huge challenges that MT poses above. To be more specific, MTPE can help you because

#1. Human translators take cultural nuances into consideration

One requirement for human translators is to understand the culture of both the source and target languages (besides being fluently in the languages). Therefore, they know how to handle cultural aspects such as idioms, jokes, etc. While reviewing the translation generated by MT, they either find equivalent expressions or remove these factors if necessary. The final goal is to guarantee the translated content is culturally sensitive.

Human translators are also adaptive to the changes in language, meaning they are much better at choosing words and expressions. Their touch at the final step will significantly improve the accuracy and consistency of your translated text.


#2. Human translators’ touch is required for specialized content

Some types of content require translators to be subject-matter experts to understand the field terminologies and jargon that MT can’t. For example, the regulations and laws of two countries always have some big differences, not to mention they change regularly. Without the knowledge from human translators, it would be challenging to relay accurate information for the translation.

Likewise, in medical translation, even a small error can cause serious consequences as it affects the life and death of patients. The involvement of human translators at some stages of the translation process is a must.


Let’s Summarize

It cannot be denied that machine translation has become more and more accurate and useful, leading to its widespread use over the past decade. However, there is still a long way to go until it can produce as good translations as human translators. For the time being, the involvement of human linguists is still of great importance to the final quality of a translation project.

With MTPE, professional linguists review and edit the machine-translated content to make sure specialized terminology, word choice, brand voice, cultural aspects, etc. are accurately used. While the quality improve significantly after this editing step, the overall translation cost is still much cheaper than translation by human linguists only. In short, MTPE is a cost-effective solution that you should consider.

If you are looking for high-quality MTPE translation services, look no further than GTE localize. As a professional language agency, we bring you the best translation solutions, whether it’s MT or human translation. We support all major language pairs and offer the most value-for-money rate in the market.

Professional translation services

Contact us for a free 1:1 consultancy and quotation!