What is the difference between translate and post-edit
Translators translate and post-editors edit. It’s true, but it’s also a too simple way to describe how post-editing and translating differ from each others. These terms are much more complex.

There are some similarities. Both should be performed by a language professional. The outcome of both actions should be a pleasurable reading experience for the target audience. A native speaker can speak the language but she may not have the required translating skills that come together with a translator degree. Translating is more than words, and an excellent translation will take all cultural aspects (including idioms, colors, habits, customs, ideologies and so on) into account. Thus, if the target is to produce the highest translation quality, a professional should perform all translating and post-editing tasks.

Translating requires different skills than post-editing. To work efficiently, a post-editor can’t work like a translator. When translating from scratch, the translator reads the original text and then creates the translation for it. She needs to decide all the words and how she builds a sentence out of those words. A post-editor will get the basic blocks for the translation as given. She’s job is to find the best translation out of those blocks. Post-editing is efficient only if there isn’t too much need for changes. This is why a good quality machine translation is essential for post-editing.

People are different. Some people are better at creating new things and others master editing, but these skills can be learned too. This is good news for translators who can expand their knowhow to post-editing. Probably the most successful professionals in the translation field will be those who learn how to combine translating and post-editing smoothly in the same project.

The basic idea with both translating and proofreading should be that the reader won’t be able to see how the translation is made. Most preferably the reader shouldn’t even realize that he is reading a translation. At first sight it may look like post-editing and translating won’t reach the same quality level because the methods are so different. However, the truth is that two different translations may be equally good. The one and only correct translation doesn’t exist. Even two translators will rarely end up in creating the exactly same translation for the same original text.


Qualified machine translationDid you know that professional translators can work 11–50% faster when combining translating and post-editing?

While low quality machine translation can slow down professionals, with qualified machine translation it is possible to work faster and improve translation productivity – without compromising on quality. Learn more.