Everything you need to know about Machine translation post-editing

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Category: Translation & Technology             Written by: Daqeeq          Date: 17 Feb 2021

Daqeeq says…

Everything you need to know about Machine translation post-editing

  • What is it?
MTPE is the process of editing machine translated texts by language experts and translators to make it understandable and meet the quality required by the client. It is important to differentiate between MTPE, which means editing the whole text after being translated via a machine and the usage of CAT tools, which means translating with the help of a translation memory (TM).
MTPE has known a great growth in the last decade due to AI improvements and the ever-increasing demands for translation. It is said to increase the productivity of the translators from the standard 2000 words a day to almost 3000 words depending on many factors, most importantly is the quality of the machine translation and the language pair and its popularity on the Internet.
It is the middle ground that looks like the translation industry has reached, for it provides better quality than machine translation and less cost and time consuming compared to human translation.
  • When should it be used it?
This is the most important question in the MTPE world: What kind of texts are suitable for MTPE and what kind of texts MTPE will mess up and should be handled by human translators from scratch?
To answer this question, we’ll need to figure out the purpose of the translated text? For example, the output of MTPE in marketing content and literature content that relies heavily on trans-creation would be disastrous. On the other hand, MTPE output for instruction contents and manuals that contains many repetitions would give good results and save time.
So, the usage of MTPE relies heavily on the source file and its contents. Texts that require human understanding, such as legal material, would need to be translated from scratch and MTPE results won’t be up to standards.
To sum it up, MTPE would do great dealing with simple, clear and straightforward texts, but would yield not so much intelligible results for texts that contains a lot of wordplay and ambiguity.

Machine translation engines

For non-experts, Google translate is the only known MT engine out there but the truth begs to differ. Many companies are developing MT engines for many reasons.
Here’s a list of machine translation engines that support Arabic in order for you to choose what suits you better:
  • Yandex MT
  • Baidu Translate
  • Google Translate
  • Systran
  • ProMT
  • Bing
As for every piece of technology out there, MTPE has advantages and disadvantages. Let’s start with the advantages of this technology:
  • Advantages of MTPE
  1. Cost efficient, because translation costs are reduced
  1. Time saving, because it can significantly reduce TAT.
  1. Time-to-market acceleration; place your product in foreign market ridiculously fast
  1. large projects advantage, because larger volumes can be translated in less time and at the same high quality.
  • Disadvantages of MTPE
The following are the most bothersome MT flaws that you will have to correct in the MT output, we will divide them into 2 main categories:
First: formatting-related:
  • Spacing
  • Capitalization
  • Hyphenation
  • Spelling
  • Flipping (Right to left and vice versa)
Second: translation-related:
  • Words omitted
  • Words added
  • Words untranslated
  • Awkward sentence structure
  • inconsistent terminology
For example: The MT could translate a term in the source text into different terms in MT output in the target text. And you’ll have to choose the correct term and apply it.
  • It kills creativity in translation making it machine like, which could be acceptable or rejected depending on the text type.


MTPE has many advantages and several disadvantages and like every new technology, it takes time to improve. Google Translate, for instance, started out as a word to word translation tool that resulted in nonsense translations but today it’s one of the most reliable MT engines out there keeping in mind that it’s quality is still far behind human one.
Machine translation in general does better with some languages than others, due to many factors. Arabic language is pretty complicated for MT because of its complex grammar, but when combined with post-editing, it works and that what Daqeeq offers you.

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