The risks of a machine translation (and how we bypass them)

13 February 2020
Blankenberge, Bruges, and De Haan. A translation machine sometimes literally translates these Belgian municipalities into English as White Collar, Bridge, and The Rooster, respectively. A vegan burger becomes a vegan citizen. One thing is clear: translation machines may produce some decent results today, but they roll out poorly translated words and wonky sentence structures all too often. And don’t even get us started on context. However, this doesn’t change the fact that machine translations are useful in specific cases, both for our translators and for you.

From machine translation to post-editing

That is why ElaN Languages considers translation machines to be a tool for our translators. In order to obtain a reliable and easily readable text, they review the machine’s translated output, checking the grammar and style. We call this post-editing, a process in which the context is also edited and corrected. This is highly necessary sometimes, especially considering this example from one of our translator-revisors:

 

Source text in Dutch: ga nooit binnen als je sporen van braak aantreft.

Machine translation into English: never enter if you find traces of vomit.

ElaN translator: never enter if you see signs of a burglary.

When do we use post-editing?

The question naturally arises as to when post-editing will be of use to you. Post-editing is certainly an option for texts that need to be re-translated regularly (such as annual reports, legal contracts, or manuals).

No matter what, we will look at this case by case because it depends on several factors. Do you need it yesterday? Do you want to cut costs? Is a ‘rough’ translation enough? Our project managers weigh up the pros and cons and – together with you – determine whether post-editing is the best solution. We keep an eye on your budget but always guarantee quality.

The advantages of post-editing

Post-editing makes the translation process faster and more efficient, but you are the one who really reaps the rewards.

  • Different translation machines are used. The machine that delivers the best results is eventually utilised.
  • In the case of a machine translation, the translation history that has already been built up is also applied, so that your standard terminology and style are systematically extended to all of your projects.
  • Machine translation further enhances the translation history (unlike your free online version, which has no company-specific history, and where identical pieces of text can be translated completely differently by the machine over time).
  • At your request, we will deliver your translation in the same layout as the source text.
  • Because we use paid translation tools, the confidentiality of your texts is always guaranteed.

Would you like to know more about post-editing? Then please don’t hesitate to contact Johan Noël, our Business Development Director: johannoel@elanlangauges.com – 011 49 04 68. He’ll explain what post-editing can do for you in detail.