The Big Challenges in Machine Translation Customization

Machine translation customization, i.e. modifying or improving an existing machine translator to fit better to one’s own case, can be challenging. After you have managed to solve the funding and work force issues there are tons of others to consider. It’s important to be aware of the possible challenges before engaging to a large customization project. Here are some of them.

Machine translation customization is profitable for large companies or societies which have a lot of similar material to translate. The emphasis here is on the word similar. Any customized machine translator is adapted for the certain type of texts. It won’t fit to all material. The challenge is to determine whether there really is such an amount of similar material to translate and what fall into the definition of similar material. Too broad type of content makes the quality goals unreachable.

Unfortunately, the large amount of narrow focused material isn’t the key to happiness. Even if you have the project you still need to find people to execute it. Machine translation customization specialists can be hard to find. The higher the goals are the more special knowledge will be needed. When the machine translation customization project requires very advanced combination of technical and linguistic know-how there’s a chance that maybe there just isn’t people who would know how to do it. After all customization is always case specific.

So, the biggest challenge in machine translation customization is that the results are far from sure. Although customized machine translation produces higher quality than raw machine translation no one can guarantee that the quality will reach the desired level. There is a point when the project becomes unprofitable as the marginal benefit won’t equal to the marginal costs. However, this applies to all projects no matter the topic. The challenge is to understand this risk beforehand and to be able to act if it comes true.

Is there any other challenges that you would like to add?

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