Translating vs. Translation-editing: What’s the Difference?

Posted on July 5, 2017 By

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Years ago, the entire translation process, from initial review to final editing, was done entirely by humans. This method often produced excellent results, but also took a long time from start to finish. This scenario was far from ideal, especially in the business world, and especially when the material to be translated is lengthy, urgent, or both.

Translation can be a demanding job. Translators need to be more than simply fluent speakers in both the target and source languages: they also need to write well in both languages, with a firm background in the field they are translating. A good translated work will read naturally and smoothly.

In contrast, machines are by their nature limited by algorithms, linguistic rules, and other automated processes embedded into them. They can never replace the natural rhythm and style of translated work done by knowledgeable translation professionals. They can, however, make the process faster and provide a viable starting point for translation editors.

Indeed, over the years, machine translation (MT) has emerged to make a huge impact on commercial applications. The technology can generate translated text much faster than has been traditionally possible. In addition, thanks to big data and the emergence of MT technologies such as neural machine translation (NMT), machine-generated translations are far less clunky and sound far more natural than their predecessors from years past. This has been a boon to many clients who need their materials — especially lengthy and wordy documents — turned around quickly and with relative accuracy.

Humans + Technology = Better

To deliver both speed and total accuracy in words and style, third-party service providers such as MYL — which offers above-industry-standard MT systems — have merged both human expertise and technology to create a seamless translation process. This has created an opportunity for translation professionals to go into translation editing or, more accurately, post-editing of machine-generated translations.

With many tools at their disposal, including a client-specific terminological database and an integrated editing platform, MYL has created an online environment for translation editors to transform MT into polished translated work. Within this environment, and depending on the level of editing required by the client, post-editors can efficiently review machine-generated translations and check anything from grammar to spelling, semantics, sentence structures, and style. In this environment, the post-editor is able to transform a machine translation into something that will sound natural to readers without taking as much time.

All this results in improved productivity, faster turnaround time, and paradoxically; higher earnings for linguists (as they can do more work in less time).  Most importantly, the clients’ translated text is smooth, accurate, and reads as though it was originally written in the target language.

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