Machine translation

In recent years, machine translation has become a widely debated subject. As technology advances, translations become more accurate, but they still don’t have a human touch. So, how does machine translation work? 

In this article, we’ll look at the types of machine translation, including MTPE, and when machine translation should be used.

What is machine translation?

Machine translation (MT) is automated, computer translation. It’s very fast, but there’s no human input which leaves room for errors and non-native sounding phrases. 

Many people outside the translation industry don’t realize there are several types of machine translations. Some yield more accurate results than others.

Rule-based machine translation

Rule-based MT works by analyzing sets of grammar rules and dictionaries. The computer takes into account structure and vocabulary in both languages, generating a translation from the source language to the target language.

Statistical machine translation

Statistical MT analyzes previously-translated texts to determine what the most likely translation should be for the new text. As the name suggests, it works with statistical models rather than grammatical rules.

Most statistical MT is phrase based, where sequences of words are analyzed together for higher accuracy. However, word-based statistical MT also exists.

Neural machine translation

Neural MT is one of the newest types of machine translation and can achieve impressive results. An artificial neural network processes information in a similar way to the brain, learning from large databases to suggest the most suitable translations.

Human vs Machine translation

Machine translation: fast and cost-effective

Machine translation is known for its speed. Once the translation is inputted in the correct format, you get results almost instantly (depending on the size of the translation). 

This means translations can be taken to market faster, saving time and money. Machine translation is also usually more budget friendly.

Human translation – in depth and creative

On the other hand, spending the extra time and money can produce more accurate results. Human translation is a more in-depth process that takes into account cultural nuances, the wider context, and stylistic preferences. 

When it comes to emotive texts like marketing campaigns, machine translation just doesn’t have the creative capacity of human translators.

Should I choose machine translation?

However advanced today’s technology may be, machine translation just cannot produce results that are as accurate as human translations. 

Moreover, if you don’t speak the target language at a native level, you’re unlikely to notice mistakes or strange-sounding sentences before you distribute your texts. This can leave companies looking unprofessional and confuse customers, employees, partners, and investors. 

MTPE – combining human and computer translations

For large volume translations where speed is more important than precision, machine translation post-editing (MTPE) could be the solution. This is where trained editors edit the output of machine translations.

Light post-editing focuses on readability, while full post-editing aims to create a more human feel to the text.

Future Group – Translation specialists

At Future Group, we are dedicated to providing the highest quality translations. Whether it’s a technical document, multilingual website, or creative project, our team is on hand to find the best translation solution. 

We work with strict quality control measures and to ISO17100 standards, so you can be confident about the accuracy of the translation you receive.

Let’s chat about your translations, simply send us a message to get started.