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Marek Makosiej
September 08, 2023
16 min read

Back to the Basics: Machine Translation Dos and Dont's

Back to the Basics: Machine Translation Dos and Dont's

In a multilingual business, ensuring your content is properly translated and localized for your target audience is important. Machine Translation (MT) has made great strides in recent years, and many companies are beginning to incorporate it into their localization processes.


In this blog, we will dive into the dos and don'ts of MT, helping you understand how it fits into your localization process while also providing tips on selecting the right translation provider, choosing appropriate software, and setting up efficient workflows.


We will also highlight the pitfalls of blindly relying on automated translation and sacrificing quality for speed or volume. Lastly, we will compare MT with human translation and help you strike the right balance for your business needs.


So let's get started!









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The Importance of Proper Translation and Localization for Your Business




For a business looking to communicate effectively with customers from around the world, accurate translation and localization are paramount. It is important to ensure that your brand message is conveyed accurately and culturally appropriately to build trust and credibility with international audiences.





The Importance of Proper Translation and Localization for Your Business





Localization goes beyond just translating content into another language; it involves adapting the entire message to suit the target audience's language, culture, and preferences. This can mean changing images, colors, formatting, and product offerings to resonate better with the local market.


Professional translation services can help ensure that your translations are error-free and linguistically accurate. These services use qualified native speakers who understand cultural nuances and can provide translations that are not only accurate but also culturally appropriate.


Investing in professional translation and localization services can help your business expand its reach globally while maintaining a strong brand image and reputation. It shows that you respect and value your international customers' cultures, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and positive word-of-mouth referrals.








Related content: How to Save Money with Machine Translation and Post-Editing?









How Machine Translation Fits into Your Localization Process?




Machine translation has revolutionized the localization process by providing a quick and efficient way to translate content. With AI algorithms, systems like Google Translate and DeepL can provide automated translations that can be used as a starting point for human translators. By integrating MT into your localization workflow, you can save time and cost while improving efficiency.





How Machine Translation Fits into Your Localization Process?





However, evaluating the quality of machine translation outputs before using them is important. While they can provide a good starting point, there may be inaccuracies or cultural nuances that need to be addressed by a human translator. It is essential to ensure that translations are accurate and culturally appropriate before publishing them.


Moreover, it's crucial to remember that it should not replace human translators entirely. They should be viewed as tools to aid the localization process rather than a substitute for professional translation services. It is always recommended that a professional translator review MT results and refine them as needed.


Integrating MT into your localization workflow can offer significant benefits such as cost savings and improved efficiency. However, it is important to carefully evaluate the quality and ensure that human translators refine them for accuracy and cultural appropriateness.








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Understanding Machine Translation




Machine translation automatically translates text or speech from one language to another using computer algorithms. This involves training translation software with large amounts of training data to improve accuracy. There are a few main types: rule-based, statistical, and neural MT. Modern systems use deep learning techniques and neural networks to enhance translation quality, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing.






Modern machine translation systems use deep learning techniques and neural networks to enhance translation quality, thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence and natural language processing.






What is Machine Translation?

Machine translation refers to the automatic translation of text or speech from one language to another using computer algorithms. It utilizes complex linguistic rules and statistical methods to analyze the source text and generate a translated version in the target language. This technology helps overcome language barriers and facilitates communication across different languages.





Types of Machine Translation

Rule-based translation relies on linguistic rules and dictionaries to generate translations, while neural type uses deep learning and neural networks to improve translation quality. Another type is statistical machine translation, which utilizes statistical databases of languages for generating translations. Modern systems often combine these different approaches to achieve better results.





The Evolution of Machine Translation

Machine translation has undergone significant advancements since its early development. Limitations in early machines led to the limited capabilities of those early systems. However, with the availability of vast amounts of data and computational power, it has made great strides forward. Artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques have further improved the accuracy of MT, enabling more precise and reliable translations. Ongoing research and development continue to drive the evolution of MT.









Related content: 7 Tips to Avoid Wasting Your Translation Budget







Machine Translation Do's




Choosing the right translation provider is essential to ensure accurate and high-quality translations. Selecting machine translation software that fits your specific needs and language pair is very important. To obtain optimum results from machine translation, establish efficient workflows. Remember that machine translation should be used to support human translators, not as a substitute. To streamline the translation process, take advantage of translation management systems.





Machine Translation Do's





While machine translation can be useful for simple phrases and sentences, editing and proofreading the machine's content is important to ensure accuracy. This can help eliminate errors that may occur due to differences in grammar or syntax between languages. Moreover, having a professional translator who can review the content for any inaccuracies or contextual errors is also crucial.


When selecting a translator, it is important to consider their expertise in the specific area where your content needs to be translated. For instance, legal documents require specialized knowledge of legal terminology, while marketing materials require understanding of cultural nuances and target audience preferences.


In conclusion, choosing the right translation provider and implementing efficient workflows are crucial steps for obtaining accurate and high-quality translations. Machine translation should be used as an aid rather than a replacement for human translators, who have the skills and expertise necessary for producing contextually accurate translations. Additionally, a professional translator's editing and proofreading of machine-translated content can help ensure that the final product meets your requirements.





Selecting the Right Translation Provider for Your Company

When selecting a translation provider for your company, it's important to consider factors such as expertise, industry knowledge, and translation quality. Look for a provider that offers a range of translation services, including machine translation if needed. Ensure they use the latest machine translation technology and have access to extensive training data. Additionally, ensure they have a team of professional human translators with expertise in your industry. Request samples and references to assess their translation quality.





Choosing the Appropriate Machine Translation Software

When selecting machine translation software, it’s important to evaluate different options and choose the one that best meets your requirements. Consider factors such as translation quality, language support, and integration capabilities. Look for software that allows customization and fine-tuning of the translation output. Ensure that the software supports the languages you need and has a user-friendly interface. Also, consider the reputation and reliability of the software provider.





Setting Up Efficient Workflows for Optimum Results

Establishing clear guidelines and instructions for the optimal use of machine translation in translation workflows is crucial. Defining the roles and responsibilities of translators and editors helps streamline the process. Implementing a review and feedback system allows continuous improvement of machine-translation output. Regularly updating and refining translation memories and glossaries enhances accuracy. Monitoring and evaluating machine translation performance ensures optimum results.









Related content: A Guide to Understanding Translation and Localization Terminology







Machine Translation Don'ts




In today's digital age, automated translation tools are increasingly becoming popular. However, relying solely on them can result in inaccuracies. To ensure high-quality translations, post-editing is essential. It is important to strike a balance between speed and quality while prioritizing accuracy. Regional dialects and variations in machine translation must also be considered when using these tools.





Machine Translation Dont's





It is recommended that machine translation should only be used as a time-saving tool for non-sensitive documents since it may not fully understand language nuances and context. Due to potential errors and privacy concerns, sensitive or confidential documents should never be translated using machine translation tools. Therefore, it is crucial to have a professional translator review and edit any translated content before publishing or sharing it with others.


Automated translation tools can also lead to significant errors, even in non-sensitive documents. The machine may not recognize idiomatic expressions or cultural references, resulting in awkward phrasing or inaccurate translations. In some cases, the meaning of the content may be entirely lost in translation.


Hiring professional translators who are well-versed in both the source and target languages is recommended to avoid such issues. They can accurately convey the intended meaning of the original text while maintaining cultural nuances and idiomatic expressions. Professional translators can also access specialized software to enhance their work's quality and accuracy.


In conclusion, while automated translation tools can be useful for non-sensitive documents, professional translators are necessary for accurate translations that preserve cultural nuances and language subtleties. It is essential not to compromise quality for speed or quantity when translating content to ensure its effectiveness and impact on the target audience.






Blindly Relying on Automated Translation

Blindly relying on automated translation without human involvement can result in errors and inaccuracies. Without post-editing, machine translation may lack fluency and natural language processing. Automated translation systems often struggle with idiomatic expressions and linguistic nuances. To avoid these pitfalls, combining the power of automated translation with human expertise is essential to ensure accurate and high-quality translations. Taking advantage of best practices and leveraging the capabilities of both human translators and machine translation engines can lead to optimal results.






Underestimating the Importance of Post-editing

Underestimating the significance of post-editing can have detrimental effects on machine-translated content. Post-editing is crucial in refining and improving translations by ensuring accuracy and linguistic quality. With human involvement, mistranslations and misinterpretations can be avoided. Neglecting post-editing can lead to flawed output, compromising the effectiveness of machine translation. It is important to prioritize post-editing as part of the translation process to enhance the overall quality.






Sacrificing Quality for Speed and Volume

When prioritizing speed and volume over translation quality, errors can occur. It is essential to invest time in ensuring translation accuracy for high-quality results. It is important not to compromise quality for the sake of efficiency or quantity. By following best practices and utilizing computer-assisted translation tools like Microsoft Translator, the capabilities of early machine translation have significantly evolved. Automation and the use of statistical translation models have improved the accuracy of machine translation.









Related content: How to Save Money with Machine Translation and Post-Editing?








Machine Translation vs. Human Translation




Striking the right balance between machine and human translation is crucial in achieving optimal results. Raw machine translation can be utilized for low-impact content requiring minimal editing. However, applying light or full post-editing is recommended when dealing with sensitive content that demands accuracy. This ensures that the translation maintains the necessary precision and linguistic quality. By combining the strengths of both machine and human translation, organizations can achieve efficient and accurate language localization.





Machine Translation vs. Human Translation






Striking the Right Balance for Your Business

Finding the perfect mix of machine and human translation is essential for your business. By assessing the complexity and sensitivity of your content, you can determine the best approach. Balancing efficiency and accuracy is crucial for effective translation management. With the advancements in NLP technology, machine translation engines like Microsoft Translator, and IBM have improved significantly.


They use statistical translation models and syntax-based machine translation to automate the process while still considering word order and grammatical rules. Early developers relied on bilingual dictionaries, but now computational linguistics and probability-based algorithms have enhanced the capabilities of machines. Just to remind you, automation can streamline your translation process, but always make sure the quality meets your standards.






Using Raw Machine Translation for Low-impact Content

Raw machine translation can be a suitable option for content that doesn't require high accuracy. For low-impact content, post-editing may not be necessary, which saves both time and resources. By leveraging raw machine translation, you can streamline the translation process for less critical materials, making it an efficient choice. This approach allows for automation and helps in optimizing workflow.






Applying Light or Full Post-editing for Sensitive Content

When it comes to sensitive content, applying the right level of post-editing is crucial. Light post-editing is recommended as it allows for manual refinement while ensuring accuracy. For critical content, full post-editing is necessary to enhance linguistic quality. However, it's important to consider the context and cultural nuances when deciding on the level of post-editing needed. You can effectively refine sensitive content by striking the right balance without compromising its integrity.






When to Stick to Human Translation?

Maintaining a strong brand voice and capturing cultural nuances are crucial for successful translation. Human translators excel in these areas, delivering the best results for branding materials and culturally sensitive content. They have an innate understanding of language barriers, idiomatic expressions, and other complexities that arise during translation. By leveraging the human brain's capabilities, translators can ensure accurate word order and grammatical rules, maximizing the impact of your message.







How to Select the Best Translation Company?




Selecting the best translation company can be a daunting task, but with careful consideration, you can find a reliable partner. Start by assessing their expertise in your specific industry or field. Look for companies with experience translating content similar to yours to ensure they understand the nuances and terminology involved.





Selecting the best translation company can be a daunting task, but with careful consideration, you can find a reliable partner. Start by assessing their expertise in your specific industry or field. Look for companies that have experience in translating content similar to yours to ensure they understand the nuances and terminology involved.





Additionally, consider the company's reputation and track record. Look for reviews or testimonials from previous clients to gauge their reliability and quality of work. A reputable translation company will have a strong portfolio and positive feedback from satisfied customers.


Another important factor to consider is their technology and tools. A good translation company should utilize advanced software and technology to streamline the translation process and ensure accuracy. Look for companies that use machine translation (MT) as a tool to support human translators rather than relying solely on it. This hybrid approach combines MT's efficiency with human translators' expertise and creativity, resulting in high-quality translations.













Furthermore, consider the company's post-editing capabilities. Post-editing is the process of revising machine-translated content to ensure accuracy, coherence, and natural language flow. It requires skilled editors who can strike the right balance between refining sensitive content and maintaining its integrity.







In Summary




Machine translation can be a valuable tool in the localization process as long as it is used appropriately. Choosing the right translation provider, selecting appropriate machine translation software, and creating efficient workflows are critical steps to achieving the best results. However, it is equally important not to rely solely on automated translation, overlook the importance of post-editing, or sacrifice quality for speed and volume.





To achieve a balance between machine and human work, it is necessary to consider the content's significance and sensitivity. Contact us for a free consultation, where we can guide you through integrating machine translation into your business and help you make informed decisions.





By optimizing your localization process today, you can streamline operations, reduce costs, improve efficiency, and deliver high-quality work that meets the needs of your global audience.


It is also essential to remember that machine translation is not always 100% accurate and may require human intervention for editing or proofreading. Therefore, implementing a quality assurance process that includes both automated and human editing is crucial to ensure that the final output meets the desired quality standards.


Moreover, different languages have varying levels of complexity when it comes to grammar, vocabulary, syntax, and cultural nuances. As such, it is important to use MT tools specifically designed for each language pair to provide the most accurate outcomes possible.


Lastly, while MT can speed up the localization process, it should never compromise quality or accuracy. In some cases where content requires high precision or expertise (such as legal documents or medical texts), relying solely on automated tools may not be sufficient. It is always advisable to consult with professional translators who have subject-matter expertise in these areas to ensure that the final output meets the highest quality standards.





To achieve a balance between machine and human work, it is necessary to consider the content's significance and sensitivity. Contact us to book a free consultation, where we can guide you through integrating machine translation into your business and help you make informed decisions.






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