Three Ways to Improve the Quality of Machine Translated Text

Machine translation quality is a hot topic. Most people and companies know that machine translation is available but the common opinion is that its quality is very far from perfect. Although machine translation is rarely flawless, one don’t have to settle for the quality. The quality of machine translated text can be improved in many ways. Here are three common methods:

One commonly used method is a technique called post-editing. In post-editing, a professional, human translator edits the translation made by a machine. This is often a bit faster than translating without machine translation. Faster translation means also lower cost. And the quality will be the same as with traditional, professional human translation. However, although the benefits are significant they are not that dramatic.

Another method is customizing machine translation engine to better translate certain type of text. For example, a machine translator might be customizable to translate text related to medical domain. Customizing includes “teaching” the machine translator about vocabulary and phrases that are common in medical domain. This improves the machine translation quality in medical texts. Thus the translation quality is better and the above mentioned post-editing stage might be skipped altogether. And without post-editing the translation process does not involve human work at all. This results in huge benefits in translation cost, time and volume. However, customising machine translation engines is very costly and requires special knowledge.

The third method is to modify the original text to be more machine translation friendly. It is true that machine translation is rarely flawless but currently most advanced machine translators translated simple text quite well. This method is especially useful if the machine translator cannot be taught or customized. Text with complicated sentence structures and words with many meanings is more error-prone than text with simple sentences and common vocabulary.

Have you tried any of these methods yourself?

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Published by

Multilizer / Niko Papula

I am managing director of Multilizer, a Finnish software company specialising in software for enhancing translation quality, speed and cost.

4 thoughts on “Three Ways to Improve the Quality of Machine Translated Text”

  1. Regarding the 3rd way, the first things to do is to use a spellchecker in order to correct mistakes because MT system are not completely tolerant to spelling mistakes.

  2. You’re right – machine translated document has to be checked by a human translator in order to deliver the best quality of output, thus, clients will be satisfied.

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