Desktop PC, laptop and tablet to show the progression of technology in this age to illustrate the speed that machine translation is progressing

We may have pointed out the flaws of Google Translate this month, but that does not mean you should avoid machine translation. Search engine translation tools are the quality you would expect for a free service. Although the tools are sophisticated and an impressive precursor to the future of translation, machine translation is not the same as a search engine tool.

Search engine translation tools use the internet in a risky fashion to create definitions. Machine translation is a much more sophisticated tool that notices regularities when comparing documents. The more you use machine translation, the quicker it builds up its bank, the more you save in the long run. Its speed of progression is impressive, as illustrated by technology in general with the image above and how we all have adapted quickly to sophisticated technology.

Now, translators, don’t panic. Machine translation is nothing to fear as there will always be a human need to post-edit the work. Due to translation being a creative medium, people continue to be its strongest asset. Machine translation quickens the process by building up a library of already translated material to allow the translator to focus on other sentences. In fact, the minimum improvement is a doubling in productivity – although it is more common to triple or quadruple.

The question does remain though, when should you use machine translation services? Is it right for your industry? What do you think is best?

How Does it Work?

Technology is evolving at its fastest pace yet with many crazy things on the horizon like 3D printing cooked food (that will be brilliant). Language is a little bit more difficult as languages aren’t entirely similar. Although there are more similarities between Mandarin and English than you might believe, human brains are wired to compute languages and indeed translate them through their brilliantly creative and puzzle-solving minds.

As technology picks up speed, though, they are starting to learn the intricacies of each language by building up banks and banks of data. The more computers are used, the more they will learn to understand – not unlike a toddler. MT is in its infancy, crawling currently before walking, running and garnering all sorts of accolades. It looks for rhythms, statistics and patterns to learn grammatical rules.

The assumption that machines will replace translators, though, is untrue as they will continue to work in a mutually beneficial partnership. Technology’s rapid development is not to be sniffed at and neither should the translators. As we say, both are important part of the ever-changing translation landscape.

Coding to illustrate the intricacy of programming machine translation

Just Machine Translation

There are service levels, as with all translation, when it comes to machine translation. If you were to choose machine translation with no post-editing at all, you may ask why not to use a search engine tool. The problem with those is that they are not confidential. Your data is feeding into their database as it actively learns and could feed into your competitors’ pairings by learning yours.

By using a machine translation service of an agency, your database is individual for you and we sign strict-NDAs to ensure your data is secure and protected.

As it is not edited too, the translation will be extremely rough. This should really only be used for internal documentation if you need a quick way to understand something for business meetings and the ilk. Norbert, our man-in-charge when it comes to MT, recommends this for large volume work such as buyouts, takeovers and similar situations.

The reason is, if it’s for internal use, you only need the context of the content rather than the full deal with translation. As it isn’t facing outwards, you won’t damage your company’s reputation or brand in doing so which allows you the freedom to look for this cost-and-time-effective solution.

Monolingual Post-Editing

This isn’t of the highest quality either, but it is a good middle ground. This is for global companies looking to communicate with branches across the globe in a clearer manner, but not in an exact fashion. This can be used in a variety of ways which depends on yourself: as simple as company announcements or even translation of training material.

Small instructional manuals are ideal for this form of MT due to their brief word count. If you have something under 500, the post-editor can turnaround a quick correction of the piece to ensure that everything makes sense to ensure your instructions are safe and coherent. Even simple things like clothes tags require translation and this form is the best as it only requires on post-editor, cost effective, quick turnaround and keeps your outward facing material to a high quality.

Bilingual Post-Editing

The difference is indeed in the title. The corrections are fed back into the machine so the machine then learns the error of its ways and banks them for the next time that sentence, phrase or terminology is used. In time, this could lead to a 70-85% savings in the future depending on how complex or consistent your terminology is in technical documents.

It is the same as monolingual post-editing in a way, the reason for the slower turnaround is because we want to ensure that the machine has learnt to pass the savings onto yourself in the future.

All the short-term benefits of a quick turnaround in comparison to a full translation by translators with the long-term investment potential that will speed up the turnaround and reduce your costs.

Pen and paper

The days of pen and paper translation are long gone. Turnarounds are much quicker and have the ability to be sped up further with the addition of MT software.

The answer of when you should use machine translation services is then entirely dependent on the quality you would like the end product to be. If you only need it for the reasons listed above, then choosing this method will utilise its strengths. If you are unsure, we recommend getting in touch to have a chat as our members of staff can walk you through exactly what you need and recommend accordingly. We are more than happy to create a boutique package to suit you as we are that packages do not always fit all.

Here is a full list of our services; we recommend browsing the technology category on our blog to learn more about the continued evolution of MT. Also, there are technology pages related to the specific software we use in-house, Synergy X.

by Ashley Norris

Content and Social Media Executive at Wolfestone. Ashley Norris is a professional writer in various forms, a First Class film graduate from Aberystwyth University and an experienced digital marketer. Despite his young age, Ashley has been working in digital marketing since its inception into the mainstream, acquiring over six years of experience inadvertently on social media platforms - a powerful marketing tool - and content management systems (primarily WordPress). Since working at Wolfestone, Ashley has explored his content writing skills, fully learnt SEO (even its multilingual benefits), practised graphic design on Adobe packages and continues to do video production to continue on from his degree.