Best Practices for Better Machine Translation Quality

Machine translation is a great tool in right situations. Still many seems to be concerned about the translation quality. Although the automatic translation can be improved by writing machine translation friendly text, there are also a few simple and quick ways to make the translation better without rewriting the whole text.

1) Correct spelling mistakes

Spelling mistakes are common and they have a great impact on the machine translation quality. Always use spell check if you have one.

2) Add missing spaces

A space between characters tells the machine translator when one word ends and another begins. Without spaces the whole text is one, very long word form the machine’s perspective.

3) Overuse commas

Most language have rules how to use commas. Although they are important and useful in most cases it seems that with machine translation the more commas there are between different thoughts and parts of sentences the better the result. A comma separates the words and help machine translators to combine the right verbs and nouns; to find the right subject to the predicate.

4) Cut long sentences into pieces

Like commas, also other punctuation marks are a great way to structure the text to be more translatable. This advice not only ease the translation but also makes the original text easier to read. For some reason we tend to write too complex sentences although shorter phrases are easier to adopt. So, this advice actually applies to all writing with or without translation plans.

5) Check the keywords if you can

If you have some knowledge on the target language, you can improve the translation quality by checking the most crucial words. If those are translated correctly, then the reader will understand the content and idea. And the understanding should be more important than the right grammar when using machine translation.


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2 thoughts on “Best Practices for Better Machine Translation Quality”

  1. Very interesting post. May I also add that technical writing / quality@source is a critical element in ensuring best results in MT output. Concise and structured syntax combined with controlled terminology undoubtedly renders better results.

    In a recent project we carried out we MT-ed work in 1 day that otherwise would have taken 44 working days by human translation. This contained not only vertical specific engines but also previously human translated and approved materials and terminology databases. More and more on-demand information is critical in this day and age.

    The foundation engines used complemented with the ancillary engines based on existing and approved translations means that the quality is exponentially increasing all the time. Whether we like it or not MT is here to stay and grow….

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