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Post Editing of Machine Translation

Machine translation technology has advanced significantly in the past several years. However, it still cannot replace the discerning judgment of a human translator. Due to the infinite variations involved in almost all languages, machine translations cannot (and probably will never) be able to detect and implement the correct translation in every instance. Hence, to have a highly reliable translation output when utilizing machine translations, post-editing will be necessary in most instances. At Trusted Translations, we have expert linguists trained specifically in post-editing machine generated translations. Our expert post-editors utilize their experience with machine or automated translation output to not only correct the output but also to improve future machine translation output. With the right technology tools in place, the post-editing process will improve the quality of a current translation project and improve on the efficiency and accuracy of the machine translation engine for future projects.

Translating and Post Editing Process

The process of translating and post-editing machine generated content is quite different, each requiring distinct skills and training. When translating, human translators normally follow this process:
  1. They carefully read the source content.
  2. Formulate the translation internally (i.e., in their brain)
  3. And, type the translation in a software program or interface.
Depending on the content and project, the translator may edit the text immediately, conduct additional research or come back to it later when the entire text has been translated. The process may vary slightly but normally these three steps are involved. In post editing machine translated content, the process is different and involves the following steps:
  1. A sentence or segment of the MT output is read.
  2. The MT output is compared to the source text.
  3. The Post-editors apply some form of quality judgment on each segment, based on explicit instructions.
  4. Quick decisions are made on whether the translation is correct.
  5. Improve the text, or
  6. Re-translate it (as in the translation process listed above).

Human Post-editing and Human Translation

There exists a significant difference in the skills and approach involved when editing human translations versus machine generated translations. In general, the types of errors found in human translations differ greatly from those found in machine translated text. For example, machine translations have a tendency to be more accurate when translating numerical values. However, machine translations also tend to produce more awkward sounding phrases. Human translations, on the other hand, tend to be better at creating a naturally sounding output, with fewer errors in context and meaning, while being more prone to errors in translating numerical values. At Trusted Translations, we train our machine translation post-editors to recognize these differences and to utilize our proprietary tools to improve the output. Further, our tools help the editor re-translate awkward sounding phrases in a manner that “train” the machine translation engine to improve on future output.

Post-editing and Pre-editing

Post-editing should not be confused with pre-editing. Pre-editing refers to the preparation involved prior to running a particular text through an automatic translation tool. It involves reviewing the content for basic errors, tagging certain content to be translated a certain way (or to not be translated at all), and optimizing the formatting. This preparation prior to utilizing the translation tool can greatly improve on the output and is considered a vital step in most machine or automated translation projects. Incorporating an efficient pre-editing process can vastly improve the output making it easier for the post-editors to do their job and produce a quality translation. As machine translation technology continues to improve, having the necessary human skills in both the pre-editing and post-editing process will become vital to producing high quality translations.