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Why post-editing of a machine translation is needed
Even a slight revision increases the quality of machine translations. By a lot!
The main advantage of machine translations is well known: Even large volumes of text can be translated instantly and at low or no cost. In many cases, however, the quality of the text suffers. Not always, but often enough to use a professional translation agency for post-editing.
Obviously, a specialist translator is able to thoroughly revise the text output of the MT system. However, full post-editing, which raises the quality of the machine translation to that of a human specialist translation, is often so costly that the price and time advantage is lost. Price savings beyond 20 percent are rare. In practice, many companies therefore opt for light post-editing.
At the beginning, we review your texts and determine, based on your project requirements, where qualitative compromises can and cannot be made. For example, the correct spelling of your product names may be more important to you than stylistic nuances that are not essential for understanding the text.
When revising the text, the post-editor then focuses on exactly those aspects that are most important to you – saving you time and money. Up to 50 percent. In this way, some of the added value of machine translations is retained without you having to make too serious qualtitative compromises. The result meets the needs and specifications of your company.
Machine translation: yes or no?
If we know your priorities, we can advise you better.
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The added value of machine translation
The advantages at a glance.
- Deadlines: It is always possible to deliver the translation within the deadlines you set. Sometimes, however, this requires compromising on quality.
- Text volume: We can translate any amount of text, even if human translators cannot handle the volume in the available amount of time.
- Scalability: Sometimes it pays to start quickly and cheaply and increase quality later, if time or budget allow. This is especially true in industries where first-mover advantage is important. Or perhaps you want to cautiously test your marketing in two target markets first before rolling out your campaigns globally on a large scale. Machine translation offers maximum flexibility here.
- Cost: It is possible to reduce the cost of your translation projects by up to 50%. This gives you relative flexibility to adjust costs to your budget. What exactly is feasible, however, always depends on your specifications. Plus: not every text is suitable for light post-editing.
Post-Editing: a case study
Before starting a large project, we translated a text excerpt of about 900 words using DeepL. Then, our post-editors sifted through these machine translations and counted the types and the severity of errors. What stood out: the high number of errors for just under three pages and the fact that each language had its own error profile.
The customer then determined which types of errors we should prioritize in our corrections. The result: savings of about 30% compared to a pure human translation. However, for marketing texts where style often plays an important role, the client opted for traditional human translations with an additional proofreading loop.
Is my text suitable for machine translation?
The short answer: it depends.
Machine translations deliver the best results when the source text is easy to read and simply structured. Accordingly, post-editing is also easier and less expensive. However, there are specialist texts for which machine translations provide good preliminary work, such as legal texts or technical texts. In those cases it is particularly important, however, that the specialist terminology is meticulously checked. Depending on the degree of specialization of the texts, this can also be time-consuming.
At present, we usually advise against translating marketing texts with a machine. Style and corporate identity are usually closely intertwined. The texts often have to be adapted to the target markets. This is still beyond the capabilities of existing MT systems. But there are exceptions, of course.
Ultimately, only after analyzing your text can we say exactly whether and how much you can save by way of a machine translation compared to a purely human translation. We therefore recommend that you simply contact us so that we can analyze your text and then advise you. This is exactly what is required by the ISO 18587 standard, with which we are certified, of course.
For larger projects, we can perform a detailed analysis and evaluation of your texts in advance and upon request. You would learn what kind of errors occur in which language pairs and how often, and what this means for the post-editing effort as well as the costs. This also makes pricing more transparent and allows you to plan better when further translation projects are due.
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What is post-editing?
'Post-editing' refers to the correction and revision a text, sometimes specifically a machine translation, by a human.
What is full post-editing?
Full post-editing is the careful revision of a machine translation. The aim is to achieve a translation quality comparable to that of a human specialist translator.
What is light post-editing?
Light post-editing is the selective revision of a machine translation. The post-editor focuses on the obvious and most glaring errors in the text. Alternatively, especially those types of errors are corrected that have been identified by the client as being particularly serious for the project. The result of a light post-editing usually is a text is not error-free but that can be understood easily.