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How to Minimize Post-Editing in Document Translation

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You’ve published blog or website and you’re seeing the results. New visitors are showing up, and this is generating new business. You know that your product has potential in other markets that speak other languages, so how can you leverage this asset? In some cases, the answer is to hire a Translation Company to translate it for your new markets. In other situations, the volume of the website or blog is so large, that this would not be within the budget. There are some alternatives that take advantage of Machine Translation or Automatic Translation. What is machine translation? It is a translation performed by computers and can vary significantly in quality depending on the tool used, the language pair and the subject matter. The good thing is that is can be improved with Post Editing.

What Is Post-Editing?

Post-editing is the process by which computer-translated content is revised by a professional human translator or post-editor. Machine translation is useful as it is quick and cost-efficient for content when the objective of the document translation and the content itself is appropriate for this type of translation service. Even with the best machine translation software, it is beneficial to use a human professional translator to amend the output. In this way, you can be sure of achieving clear and accurate results.
Some prominent uses of machine translation, and subsequently post-editing, occur in:

  • Information Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Law firms
  • E-commerce
  • Manufacturing
  • Oil and Energy

All of these industries work with Requests for Proposals, litigation, legal discovery, manuals, literature for clients, portions of websites that become obsolete quickly, correspondence, and other applications. In this post of our translation blog, we will look at some strategies to reduce the amount of time spent on post-editing and how to make post-editing work to its full potential.

Mistakes That Cost Time Post-Editing

In business, it goes without saying that time is money. Time saved is valuable, as is the effort put into post-editing. Therefore, anything that will end up wasting time during the post-editing process should be discouraged, reduced, or eliminated.

Here are some of the things that end up taking too much time to post-edit:

  • Rambling sentences. Overly verbose text runs the risk of coming out hard to read when run through a machine translation program.
  • Very long sentences.
  • Double meanings or satire.
  • Grammatical errors. These can warp the meaning of the output. For example, a medical text with faulty punctuation could lead to an incorrect dosage that harms a patient. (For instance: 2.5 mg versus 25. mg)
  • Vague language. Be simple and concise. An engineering manual could lead to faulty products and dangerous mistakes if instructions are rendered incorrectly or are unclear.
  • Figurative language. It is better to be literal when planning to use machine translation. Figures of speech are highly localized and few will share any equivalency with the target language.
  • Avoid Homographs when possible. Homographs are words that are spelled the same but mean different things, like “spell,” which could mean arranging letters or an enchantment.

How to Reduce Time and Cost in Post-Editing

It is best to avoid being late on deadlines or over budget. The mistakes listed above can cost time and money, as well as have negative effects on human safety. There are ways we can avoid that by planning ahead if the text is going to be machine translated.

  • Write with post-editing in mind. Keep the text simple, definite, and easy to follow. Use the active voice. “John gave the book to Padma,” will translate better than, “The book was given to Padma by John.”
  • Be clear and detailed with the translation company on what the text is for so they can use that information to complete their work.
  • Use glossaries, industry-specific terminology dictionaries, and style guides. These are good to have as some data can be re-used within your business and provided to translators and post-editors to help speed up the process which in turn helps the client work more effectively with the translation company.
  • Pre-editing. Another idea is to save the copy in stages of editing. Pre-edit the version that will be machine-translated. This involves having a professional experienced in machine translation look over the text before processing it and then revising the copy for best results with the program being used.
  • Test the content to see if it is at a good enough quality for machine translation and post-editing. Some output is of poor quality and would thus be better suited for human translation.

Work with a Translation Company with Experience in Post Editing

A professional translation services company will work with you to help select the best approach for your machine translation project and subsequent post-edition work. You need to work with an experienced translation company that can support the use of machine translation, and help you decide if you need full post-editing or light post-editing according to the objective of the work. The translation company should also be able to provide an evaluation of the translation by a translator after the machine translation process.

Light post-editing corrects minor issues and is generally used for documents that will serve an internal purpose, while full post-editing undergoes deeper stylistic analysis to prepare it for publication and takes more time.

Post-editors, are professional translators trained in the art of post-editing. As with any professional translator, post-editors are proficient in both editing machine-translated text, as well as the source and target language you require for your project.

The best machine translation and post-editing services company take things a step further by offering expertise in the client’s industry. Making sure you use only the best machine translation option and post-editors professionals improve your standing with your business partners and clients while helping you maintain the safety and integrity of your products in other languages.

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Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie Ruffolo
Jackie was born in Venezuela. Jackie has a BS in computer engineering; As President of JR Language, she spends time researching new technology and productivity tools for the Company. She holds a certificate of Localization and Project Management- Localization. Through her many years of experience working in multilingual corporate environments, she understands firsthand the value of bridging language barriers in creating smooth communication that allows for productive and happy work environments. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and is a frequent contributor to both our English and Spanish blogs. Jackie loves nature and to be outdoors.