Filed under: Business, Content Optimization, Language, Translation Services
MT post-editing projects can be divided into two main categories, depending on the expected level of quality of the final output:
- Perfection: The objective is to get final files indistinguishable from files that would have been handled only by humans through a standard translation process.
- Readability: The objective is to get final files that have the same meaning as the source files, are correct from grammar, spelling, and terminology standpoints, but whose style is not necessarily perfect.
For marketing content, “perfection” is clearly a must, but for technical manuals, “readability” can be deemed sufficient.
Thanks to the large number of projects we have been handling at e2f translations, an English to French single language vendor, we have been able to categorize them as “Good” or “Bad” from a production perspective. Unfortunately, we often had to wait until the post-mortem phase to know whether the project was “Good” or “Bad!”
The following are some of the characteristics of a “Good” project:
- Source files have been written or edited for machine translation: either the source text was written in very simple and consistent language, with short sentences, straightforward word order and little redundancy, or the files have been processed through a “content cleaning software,” such as Acrolinx in order to achieve the same results.
- The glossary is comprehensive and well translated, and the engine uses it in a systematic manner.
- The project is large, it has been divided into batches and each batch is processed individually, after incorporation into the MT engine of final output from the previous batch.
- Specific linguist feedback is incorporated into the engine (fine-tuning of grammar rules, updates to the glossary, etc.), and the linguist is financially rewarded for this step.
When all of the above is true, the linguist feels involved and the quality of the output increases throughout the project, along with the productivity and happiness of the linguist!
In “Bad” projects, the opposite happens:
- Source files are poorly written, terminology is inconsistent, sentences are long, grammar is awkward, etc.
- The glossary is too small or inadequate and/or it’s not being used consistently by the engine.
- Even though the project is large, the machine translation engine has been run only once at the onset.
In this type of project, the linguist gets increasingly frustrated as the same mistakes have to be corrected over and over again, while the overall productivity remains unchanged.
In order to increase productivity while editing MT output, we have found that it is best to abide by the following rules:
- Read the sentence in the target language first:
- If the sentence is very long, erase it and translate from scratch (the longer the sentence, the more likely it is that the engine will have made a large number of mistakes and that it will be faster to start over).
- If the sentence is short but does not make sense, erase it and translate from scratch (if you are going to change most of the words, you might as well start over).
- Otherwise, read the source text and edit the target text, as little as possible.
- Don’t overcorrect for styles and synonyms.
To summarize, the best advice we can give to freelance translators willing to take the plunge into MT post-editing is:
- Clarify expectations at the project onset (so you don’t end up getting paid for “Readable” quality while providing “Perfect” quality).
- Look for “Good” projects and stay away from “Bad” projects, unless you would rather feel frustrated than involved!
- Use best post-editing practices to increase your productivity.
- Finally, calculate your productivity and adapt your rate accordingly!
Very similar advice can be applied to standard translation projects, which proves that MT engines are just another tool and not the revolution some linguists are scared about!
This post is an excerpt of the article published in GALAxy newsletter.
Filed under: Business, Content Optimization, Language, Web Localization
I recently participated in a discussion posted in the International Business Group on LinkedIn, where someone raised the question of the benefits of website translation in a foreign language. The initiator of the discussion mentioned that she had observed that customers abroad preferred to spend money for goods and services on websites in their own languages rather than on websites written in English.
Some of the group members argued that translating a website into a foreign language would be redundant in the software industry, but would be justified in the B2C application. Someone suggested machine translation or a combination of MT and human translation could also be a solution. Although, machine translation has improved over the years, human translation is still the most professional and preferred means of translation.
At ABLE, our philosophy is very simple: “People buy what they can read.” This applies to just about any product or service you try to sell whether in the US or abroad. In this global environment, it is almost essential for a company trying to reach foreign markets to have their website localized into the target language. Do you know that over 1.1 billion people use internet worldwide? And a vast majority of these users favor American products and services to the ones offered in their countries. Having lived abroad, I have personally witnessed buyers prefer shopping online on websites in their own language, even though they knew English very well. The comfort of their own language and locale is more important to them than a beautifully polished and attractive English website.
Many American companies have successfully achieved this goal. Take for instance eBay and Amazon – they have fully understood the benefits of selling to a foreign market in a language clearly understood by the buyer.
In our business, we constantly see companies challenged by the question of whether to translate/localize their products/content/service offerings and what the gain and/or loss would be if they did. What is the cost of localization vs. the increased revenue in the target markets? Return on Investment (ROI) is not always straight forward and sometimes not even measurable to begin with.
Fortunately, today’s technology allows us, language service providers, to translate websites in different languages at a relatively low cost. We help our clients, not only by advising on the proper language to use in a specific locale, but also how to optimize the English content to reduce the number of words for translation.
In taking this leap of faith you will join many other companies that have successfully expanded their market share that was once only available to English speaking buyers. As soon as you have a website, your goods & services become accessible world-wide and to reap the benefits of this, remember – “People buy what they can read”.