In an increasingly global world, communication barriers between different languages are even more apparent. Machine translation (MT) has emerged as a convenient solution, leveraging artificial intelligence and MT tools to translate text from one language to another automatically. While this technological advancement has undoubtedly facilitated communication, it has empowered individuals to translate their content and led to a surge in charlatans offering translation and content writing services.
However, while machine translation has made significant progress, it still has shortcomings. As a result, there is a growing demand for revision, proofreading, and post-editing services to enhance machine-generated translations. In this article, we delve into the reasons behind this increasing demand, emphasizing the importance of human intervention in refining machine translations and the invaluable services offered by professional translators.
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The Quality Gap
Machine translation has significantly improved, offering convenient and accessible solutions for translating content across different languages. However, while machine translation can be helpful in specific contexts, it still has limitations that prevent it from achieving the same level of accuracy, fluency, and cultural sensitivity as professional human translation. Let’s explore some common issues and errors that can arise with machine translation.
Machine translation often struggles to accurately capture the nuances of context, leading to mistranslations or awkward phrasing. For example, idiomatic expressions or cultural references can be misinterpreted, resulting in content that lacks the intended meaning or impact. Imagine a machine translation turning the English expression “to break a leg” into a literal translation in another language.
Cultural nuances and local customs are often lost in machine-translated content. This can lead to misunderstandings or even offend the target audience. Different cultures may have different ways of expressing politeness, formality, or respect, which machine translation might overlook. On the other hand, professional human translators possess the cultural knowledge required to ensure accurate and culturally sensitive translations.
Machine translation can produce grammatical errors or incorrect sentence structures, especially when faced with complex or ambiguous phrases. Technical jargon or industry-specific terminology can challenge machine translation, resulting in inaccuracies or confusion. These errors can affect the overall clarity and professionalism of the translated content.
Style and Tone Consistency
Machine translation may struggle to maintain consistency in style, tone, and brand voice across different languages. The translated content should align with the desired style and tone of the original text to keep a consistent brand image. Professional translators excel at adapting the style and tone of the original content, ensuring coherence and resonance in different languages.
Subject Matter Expertise
Specific industries require specialized knowledge and terminology. Machine translation is not meant to accurately translate content in specific fields such as legal, medical, or technical domains. Professional translators with subject matter expertise can bridge this gap and ensure accurate and specialized translations with CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tools, term bases (terminology databases or glossaries), and translation memories (a linguistic database that stores previously translated segments).
The Difference Between Revision, Proofreading, and Post Editing
Revision, proofreading, and post-editing are distinct tasks, each serving a specific purpose. Here’s a brief explanation of the differences between these tasks:
Post-editing involves reviewing and editing machine-generated translations to improve their quality and readability. It involves correcting errors, improving clarity, and ensuring the translation aligns with the desired style, tone, and purpose. Post-editing aims to enhance the machine-generated translation and make it more accurate, fluent, and suitable for its intended audience.
Revision involves reviewing and analyzing content to make any necessary corrections or changes. In translation, there are two types of revision: unilingual and bilingual.
Unilingual revision focuses on revising a single text in a single language, which can be either the source text or the revision of the translated text. During unilingual revision, the reviser concentrates solely on the text that needs to be revised without considering any other texts. The goal is to ensure accuracy, clarity, style, and overall quality in the revised version. Unilingual revision can be necessary for situations where the source text is of poor quality or is challenging to translate due to its poor writing. As we say: bad input, bad output. In translation, if the source text is poorly written, it can significantly impact the accuracy and effectiveness of the translation.
Bilingual revision, on the other hand, involves comparing the accuracy between a source text and its translated version. The reviser carefully examines the translation in relation to the original text, paying attention to accuracy, clarity, style, and overall quality. The aim is to ensure that the translation faithfully reflects the intended meaning and effectively conveys the message. Revisers may introduce significant changes such as rephrasing or restructuring sentences, if necessary, to enhance the accuracy and fluency of the translation.
Proofreading is a detailed examination of content to identify and correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and page layout errors. The proofreader focuses primarily on technical aspects and surface-level mistakes that may have been overlooked. They ensure that the final text, whether translated or not, is free of typos, inconsistencies, and other errors. They may also provide text improvements.
While revision and post-editing involve a more comprehensive review and modification of texts, proofreading is a narrower process focused on correcting surface-level errors. These three tasks hold great significance in both content writing and translation, serving as fundamental pillars of the process, particularly when it comes to ensuring quality assurance.
The Benefits of Revision and Post Editing
Revision and post-editing provide significant advantages in enhancing the quality of machine translation. By incorporating a human touch into the translation process, these stages offer several benefits that can contribute to accurate and polished translations. Let’s explore how revision and post-editing can improve machine translation.
Like revisers, proofreaders, and post-editors, professional translators possess linguistic expertise and cultural knowledge, enabling them to refine machine-translated content. They can identify and rectify errors, inconsistencies, and mistranslations that may arise during the automated translation process. Through meticulous post-editing and revision, the final translation achieves higher accuracy and fluency, ensuring that the intended message is conveyed effectively.
Precise and Dependable
Despite the additional time and resources, post-editing and revision services provide long-term savings, particularly when handling translations internally. Investing in these processes minimizes the risks of errors and inaccuracies as they are overseen by language professionals, thereby mitigating potential legal complications. While automated tools like Google Translate or DeepL offer convenience, the need for a professional translator becomes evident when seeking accurate and reliable translations.
While MT can deliver a translation at the click of a button, revision and post-editing services ensure the translations are precise and dependable, safeguarding the integrity of the final document. Cautionary note: don’t expect professional translators to charge less for their expertise due to their evolving roles!
The Changing Landscape of Translation
The translation landscape is undergoing significant changes due to the emergence of automated tools and machine translation. As a result, the role of translators is shifting with the rising demand for revision and post-editing services. These services provide clients with a cost-effective solution while ensuring the accuracy and polishing of translated content. However, it’s essential to recognize that professional translators still bring valuable expertise to the table.
In this evolving landscape, fair compensation for translators is a crucial consideration. It’s essential to acknowledge the integral role of professional translators and how their rates for revision and post-editing services adjust accordingly. For instance, while translators may have previously charged $0.06 per word for revision, the current landscape may warrant higher rates, as much as $0.15 or more. Hourly rates can also reach up to $120 or more.
To find the right language professional, due diligence has become imperative. Consider factors such as credentials, language proficiency, certifications, memberships in professional organizations (OTTIAQ, ATA, ITI, etc.), translation expertise, communication and collaboration skills, pricing and turnaround time, and testimonials and reviews. It’s important to be cautious in a market where many individuals without proper training or expertise offer translation or content writing services at cheap rates using automated tools. The adage “you get what you pay for” still holds true in the language industry, emphasizing the value of investing in professional translators who can deliver professional results.
Conclusion: Bridging the Gap Between Machines and Humans
While machine translation has its benefits, it’s important to recognize the quality gap between professional human translation and machine translation. The limitations of machine translation, including challenges with contextual understanding, grammatical accuracy, cultural sensitivity, and maintaining consistent style and tone, highlight the need for human intervention in the translation process.
Professional translators bring a wealth of expertise, cultural knowledge, and linguistic finesse to ensure accurate, fluent, and culturally sensitive translations that cater to the target audience's specific needs. As the demand for translation continues to rise, professional translation remains an invaluable business resource.
Be cautious of individuals offering services solely through automated tools at exceptionally low rates. While these cheap services may save you money upfront, they risk damaging your reputation. Don’t forget that quality comes at a price! Investing in professional translation guarantees the quality and accuracy necessary for effective communication.
In a world where communication and language are vital in bridging cultures and expanding businesses nationally and globally, relying on professional translators is still a wise choice. Stay tuned for next week’s article, which will discuss the shift in translator roles in more detail.