Machine translation postediting, a dangerous trend

More companies and individuals are opting to order what is known as machine translation postediting, or MTPE for short. There is no doubt that the world is driven by AI trends, and as such, postedit services are increasing day by day. But what is MT postediting and why MTPE is dangerous?


What is MT postediting?

Postediting is the adaptation of a translation carried out by machine translation software. It aims to ensure that the outcome maintains the quality and naturalness of a translation carried out by a professional translator.

Why would anyone want to order postediting services and not a traditional translation? Mainly due to economic and productivity factors.

In other words, to get the highest volume of content translated in the shortest possible time, and for a low price.


Problems in machine translation postediting

There is a tendency to think of MTPE as a simple proofreading job when in fact, it involves much more. It is true that it is a cheaper alternative to professional translation, there is no denying the obvious.

However, the benefits in terms of turnaround times are relative and sometimes misleading.

This can lead to misunderstandings between client and supplier and to frustrations for the translation team doing the work.

Although it may not seem like it, there are many cases in which the quality of the machine translation is so poor that the original text has to be translated from scratch. If we add the previous revision, we are talking about twice as much work for the team.

Therefore, reducing the time needed to prepare the final delivery when the work often takes even more time than a human translation can have a negative impact on the quality of the translation.

When is MTPE ideal for a project?

Human translation carried out by professional language experts is still the best and, in the long run, the most economical option.

However, it’s true that in some cases MTPE can be used to provide value to clients:

  • In large-volume projects, such as ecommerce stores, MTPE can be used for some parts of the catalogue that are outdated or not very important.
  • To test a new international market, you may not want to spend a lot of money. In this case, postediting could be ideal for initial stages.
  • Try to always avoid using MTPE between languages such as Spanish-Japanese, since most machine translation engines first translate into English and then into Japanese, in this case. Thus, increasing the possibility of error.

It’s better to rely on translation services

We at Ontranslation recommend that a professional human translation is (almost) always the best option for companies going global.

As we have seen, although machine translation postediting services may initially appear to be quicker, they are counterproductive in most cases.

An investment of time and money that is only slightly more costly can achieve infinitely better results.

For some time now, it seems to be a trend to tout the wonders of machine translation – and even machine interpretation!

However, this is especially true in those parts of the business sector where the concept of “productivity” is not entirely convincing.

Granted, we are pro-technology, but only if it makes life easier for everyone.

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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