Ken SubediKen Subedi What Is Post-Editing? How is Machine Translation Post-Editing Evolving?January 7, 2020

What Is Post-Editing? How is Machine Translation Post-Editing Evolving?

Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE) is a process in which a human edits the translation done by a machine or software to make the text more acceptable. You see, in many cases, computer-aided translation is not very accurate.

So, post-editing is the concept of making ‘machine do the hard work,’ and a person editing the results to make it precise. As simple as that.

The Rise of Machine Translation

The first computer that could translate language was the IBM 701. It was developed in 1954 and could translate 60 Russian sentences in English.

Since then, Machine Translation, as an important part of Artificial Intelligence, has been evolving a lot. By now, we have powerful tools like Google Translate, which offer a satisfactory level of accuracy while translating, at least till the point people can get an idea about what a text in a foreign language means.

The Industry

It is not only about machine translation, but the translation industry as a whole. With businesses looking to globalize more than ever before, translation services are one of the most in-demand services in the world. The growth rate is tremendous; the language service industry is at least a $46 billion industry in 2019, and according to Statista, it will become a $56 billion industry in 2021.

Machine Translation Post-Editing Vs. Human Translation

First, you need to know the purpose of creating Machine Translation- it was to make translation fast and more efficient.

Machine Translation
Machine Translation Post-Editing

Now let us talk about Machine Translation Post-Editing. 

With a machine taking a little time to translate and humans editing it afterward for errors, it seems the better option, right? Well, not entirely.

Many times, especially when converting large chunks of text, machine translation creates so many inaccurate results that the user needs to spend a lot of time fixing the syntax. In some cases, the amendments use up all the time that the user thinks they ‘saved’ while letting the machine do the work.

Moreover, translation is not only about words and sentences. In texts where emotions are concerned, for example, marketing copies or even books, fixing a robotic translation done by a computer will not be anywhere near to the desired result.

Anyway, machine translation post-editing is still a faster and better option when there isn’t a lot of text. Of course, the translation should be for unofficial purposes.

MTPE vs. Human Translation, which One to Go For?

Let a human start from scratch if the translation is for official purposes. For example, translating documents, on-screen translation for software, or official movie/video subtitles. There is no other option.

On the other hand, if you are doing the translation to understand a foreign text or are creating something for your personal Instagram caption, machine translation post-editing will do.

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