A brand looking to develop a strong, global presence requires extensive translation of their website, software, packaging, marketing materials and even user-generated content like product reviews. Many have turned to machine translation (MT) as a means of reducing translation time and cost. While MT technology has significantly improved in recent years, it has yet to rival human translators. This is especially true when translating highly technical or creative content.
Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is a process that balances the speed and cost savings of MT with the skills and nuances of human translation to achieve high-quality results. As volumes increase and faster turnaround times are required, MTPE will play an increasingly important role in localization strategies. RWS Moravia presented a webinar entitled Implementing a Successful MT Post-editing Program that explained what MTPE is and when it can be used, so here is a recap of our key points.
First, what is machine translation post-editing?
MTPE is when a professional linguist reviews the ‘raw’ output from a machine translation engine. These linguists, called post-editors, edit in accordance with the quality standards that the client defines for the particular type of content. In addition, post-editors are trained in post-editing, familiar with translation tools and experienced in the subject matter.
The amount of post-editing that is required varies depending on the type of content and organizational objectives. Content with relatively low visibility or for internal use typically only requires light post-editing. This involves editing translated text only for accuracy and grammatical errors. In other words, raw MT content is only revised when it is absolutely necessary.
Full post-editing is required for highly visible content and/or content that requires a high level of accuracy (think legal documents). This process involves fixing all errors, adjusting the tone and ensuring overall consistency throughout the document. Moreover, post-editors must confirm that appropriate cultural adjustments are made for the target markets.
Boosting your localization strategy with MTPE
MTPE offers many localization benefits for both global enterprises and linguists. For the former, MTPE can help:
- Reach more markets: MTPE lowers the costs of localization, allowing companies with smaller marketing budgets to reach more customers around the world.
- Reduce turnaround times: traditional translation, particularly of complex technical content, takes time. MTPE takes just a fraction of the time and gives translators a solid foundation to work from.
- Achieve financial gains: lower translation costs plus a growing international customer base mean more revenue and higher profit margins.
- Generate data for engine training: training MT engines with post-edited content results in higher-quality translations for similar materials.
For linguists, MTPE can:
- Improve productivity: according to one study of post-editing productivity, translation time can be cut by up to 43%.
- Integrate with translator environments: MT engines are user-friendly and can be integrated with a variety of translation tools.
- Avoid grammatical errors and typos: the same study also found that traditional translation jobs had a higher number of errors than ones completed with MTPE.
- Diversify: MTPE allows translators to offer a broader range of translation services.
Using translation tools for post-editing
There are several features in translation tools that can help the post-editing process, such as those that automate terminology usage or perform QA. Automated quality assurance tools play an important role in the MTPE process, as they help identify systemic issues in the raw MT and spot certain types of linguistic non-compliance that might be introduced during post-editing. QA tools that are adapted for post-editing and customized to specific client requirements improve post-editor efficiency thanks to:
- Rule-based checks: these identify issues in raw MT such as concatenated segments, misplaced tags and incorrect number formats that may go against the client’s style guide and/or instructions.
- Terminology checks: these flag key terminology issues in raw MT content to ensure adherence to client-specific terminology and product names.
- Consistency checks: these ensure the overall consistency within the whole batch of content.
- Spelling checks: these QA tools help catch occasional spelling errors and can use customized dictionaries.
QA tools help global enterprises get more out of post-editors, adhere to the latest terminology or style guides, address issues identified during post-editing and monitor compliance. For post-editors, QA tools help them to get terminology right, avoid repeat issues and identify errors that are normally easy to miss, such as incorrect punctuation or spacing.
Continuous MTPE improvement
It is important to remember that MTPE is a process and will not perform optimally after the first translation. A continuous improvement loop helps identify and remedy repetitive MTPE issues. The steps in the process are:
- Post-editors identify and report systemic issues in MT. These are recurring issues that impact efficiency.
- These issues are analyzed on a regular basis.
- Stakeholders develop solutions to resolve the issues, such as:
- Adding a step in the workflow to correct the errors;
- Further training or customizing the engine to prevent the issues in the future; and/or
- Implementing automated QA tools to flag the errors so that post-editors can correct them prior to delivery.
- Stakeholders ensure that all issues have been resolved.
While perfecting the MTPE process takes time, it is a highly productive, cost-effective and accurate translation method. Tune in to the webinar to hear MTPE expert Paula Estrella and our Language Technology Deployment Manager Maribel Rodríguez share their practical experience and tips for implementing a successful MTPE program.