The increased interest around machine translation has made post-editing a hot topic. Automatic translations (or in fact any types of translations) require proofreading at the end of the translation process. This is the key to minimize errors and polish the output. With machine translation this proofreading process is called post-editing because automatically translated texts tend to need more editing than professional translations.

The demand for post-editing services is growing exponentially. From the outside it seems logical to ask a professional translator to do post-editing. However, not all translators are happy to do post-editing. It often takes some time to go through the text, and fixing all the silly mistakes can be frustrating. In addition the work flow for post-editing is different than for translating. Although most translation educations contain some post-editing lessons, some serious training and learning is needed in order to becoming an expert in post-editing. The costs aren’t marginal and thus it is clear that some translators feel comfortable in being ‘just’ translators.

When demand exceeds supply, new ways need to be found. Pre-editing is one alternative. It decreases the need of post-editing work by improving the machine translation quality. Pre-editing is made before the automatic translation is started. Its purpose is to edit the original text and to make it as translatable as possible. In practice it means fixing typos and simplifying vocabulary and text structure.

Pre-editing is useful when translating with a machine translator. The challenge with machine translation is that machines have a logical and systematic approach to the languages. Unfortunately all languages have irregularities and exceptions that confuse machines. Because machines can’t translate everything well, the user plays a big role in guaranteeing the best possible quality.

The most common quality issues with machine translation could be avoided by pre-editing. When writing anything at all, one should always proofread the text. It means a lot of time and effort but it is worth it. Ebooks and other long documents are laborious to proofread but it improves the readability enormously.  Overall, the focus on the reading experience pays off is the translation process as well. Any reader-friendly text is often machine-friendly, too.

Pre-editing doesn’t solve all the quality issues but, to some extent, the source text determines the quality level of the translation. Post-editing is both faster and more profitable when the automatic translation is as good as possible. With machine translation pre-editing, what goes around definitely comes around.


Qualified machine translation
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