Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE): a game changer

2021-06-23T20:33:42+00:00 June 23rd, 2021|Uncategorized|

Machine Translation Post Editing (commonly known as MTPE) has become a game changer for every translator, improving their productivity and expanding their work opportunities; but what is it exactly?

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The development of new technologies combined with the increasing demand for translation services and the rise in competitiveness has brought a change in the dynamics of the translation industry. Nowadays, translators have numerous tools and resources at their disposal to help them throughout the translation process, whether to improve their accuracy or optimize their time. In this sense, Machine Translation Post Editing (commonly known as MTPE) has become a game changer for every translator, improving their productivity and expanding their work opportunities; but what is it exactly?


What is Machine Translation Post Editing (MTPE)?

MTPE, also known as automatic, automated, or instant translation, is the process whereby a translation performed by a computer is later post-edited by a specialist linguist to refine the text and ensure that the final work meets the client’s expectations. Now that we have clarified this point, you may be wondering what about the work of the traditional translator? (i.e. translating from scratch). Aren’t they afraid of the machine? Will the role of the translator diminish? The answer is: not necessarily.

Just like technology, the role of the translator has evolved over the years. For example, today, it is hard to imagine the work of a translator without a computer. But despite the accuracy that software can develop, a machine remains a machine. The intuition and skills of a linguist are in no way replaceable, certainly not when it comes to understanding the meaning and purpose of a message. That is why they play such an important role during the post-editing process, a step that helps linguists identify and correct any possible mistake the software tool might have made and consequently improve the quality of the overall work.


Types of post-editing

First, post-editing strategies depend on the client’s requirements, the nature of the project and the resources available, i.e. time, cost and quality. Once you know this information, you can decide which type of approach is more suitable for your job.

Light post-editing: this means modifying the raw machine translation as little as possible, just to make the output understandable and accurate for the end user. With this in mind, the editor should watch for errors that might prevent the message from reflecting its essence. It is a good approach when time and money are limited, but it will not always be the best choice as it prioritizes speed over quality.

Full post-editing: this means that the raw machine translation is revised and modified in depth so that the final result is of the same quality as if it had been translated by a human translator. This means that the editor will correct the tone, punctuation and style of the text, along with any grammatical errors found, while also adapting it to the culture of the target language if necessary. The result will be a high-quality translation that may take a little longer than expected, but will deliver a great result.


Why is MTPE practical for linguists?

As mentioned earlier, it is hard to separate technology from translators these days. And with the availability of new and better tools in the language industry increasing every year, it is important that linguists learn how to use them so they can improve their performance.

Today, for example, machine translation is built into almost every CAT tool. The biggest advantage is its ability to process more than one million words per hour in any language you require. This means that hours and days of translation work are saved, which can be used to take on more projects and tasks, study and refine technical skills, or even have extra time for creative tasks such as transcreation, localization, or copywriting.

In short, although translation and post-editing are different linguistic tasks, it is important for linguists to know both and learn how to handle them properly. After that, they will use them depending on the nature of the project and the resources available. But do not forget: high-quality results can only be achieved by specialists. They are the ones who give the final work that special touch and input that really makes the difference.


At Win & Winnow, we believe that professionals should be aware of their capabilities and possibilities, and use them to improve the excellence and quality of their work! It is through the use of these tools that we can evolve in our roles and take our skills and abilities to the next level.

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