What is machine translation?
Machine translation (MT) is a process of using software to translate text from one language to another without any human involvement. To put it simply is an automated translation generated by a computer.
MT basically substitutes words in one language for words in another. But since no words have equivalent words in another language, this led to poor translation results.
To enhance the translation quality, machine translation has been improved dramatically.
Modern MT goes beyond simple word-to-word translation and analyzes how the words influence one another. Working with a large amount of source and target languages enables MT to communicate the full meaning of the original language text in the target language.
Types of Machine Translation
There is not just one method of machine translation. The three most common types are:
- Statistical machine translation.
- Rule-based machine translation.
- Hybrid machine translation
- Neural machine translation (NMT)
Statistical machine translation (SMT)
According to the definition, SMT deals with automatically mapping sentences from one language into another. This method doesn't rely on linguistic rules and words. It learns to translate by analyzing a large volume of existing human translations.
Rule-based machine translation (RBMT)
Contrary to SMT, Rule-based machine translation relies on linguistic and grammar rules to learn to translate. Rules used by RBMT are developed by language experts and can be customized to a specific niche. The rules programmed into the MT dictate how a word or phrase should be read in the target language.
Hybrid machine translation
As the name suggests, Hybrid machine translation uses multiple MT approaches within a single machine translation system. The method was developed due to poor translation accuracy when using other MT methods. Hybrid machine translation further develops in several forms. The most widely adopted are multi-engine, statistical rule generation, multi-pass and confidence-based.
Neural machine translation (NMT)
NMT is one of the most popular machine translation systems and has the ability to constantly learn and self-improve by using a large neural network. This allows NMT to learn and operate completely independently. The system has the ability to learn from every translation task and improve upon each following translation.
What is Machine translation post-editing?
Albeit MT has dramatically improved over the past years, it still needs some degree of post-editing to achieve 100% accuracy. Post editing simply means proofreading texts translate by a machine engine. This process aims to achieve the same level of translation quality as a human translator can give.
Linguists and businesses around the world use MT to eliminate the long process of manual translation, and only do the post-editing. Combining MT and human expertise improves both translation efficiency and accuracy.
Benefits of using machine translation to grow your business
There are many benefits of using machine translation. From faster content turnaround to reduced translation costs and improved efficiency. Read further and explore the top 4 benefits of using MT to grow beyond the local market.
MT eliminates long and stressful manual translation work. MT improves the ability to deliver translation faster and reduces the time to market. Only having to deal with post-editing reduces the human involvement and costs of the whole process.
Paying for post editing instead of translation from scratch is thus a highly cost-effective solution. Especially when you work with external LSP or freelance translators.
Improve translation speed and volume
Reducing human involvement in the translation process does not only reduce costs but also improves translation speed and volume. Human translators translate between 3000-3500 words per day on average. While this is impressive, MT can translate more words than this in a split second. The best part is that the content doesn't matter.
MT will process real-time chat, legal documents, or a blog post almost equally fast. MT can thus be a lifesaver when you need to translate large volumes of content on short notice.
A wide array of available languages
Imagine expanding your business into 10 new foreign markets. Without MT, you would need at least 10 human translators to localize all your content. Not only would translating your content be insanely expensive, but would also take ages to be done.
With the help of MT, translating your content into numerus languages is not an issue. Most MT engines even allow you to translate into 50 -100+ languages simultaneously.
Another benefit of using MT is that it helps you ensure consistency. If you want that your voice and messaging stay consistent in every language, working with human translators can be an issues. All translators have their own unique style that will change the voice in your messaging.
Next thing to consider is the translation quality. When using MT, translation quality stay the same no matter the type of content, or language you want to translate. The software will treat similar situation the same, which will reduce the number of unexpected translation outcomes.
The cons of using machine translation
Even though machine translation can be a great tool when you want to translate a large volume of content fast, there are some disadvantages to consider.
Poor translation quality
The first disadvantage of using MT is poor translation quality. Whether it is a company proposal, website, financial report, or another type of content, correctness is essential. AI and machine learning have drastically improved the quality of MT, but its output is still far from perfect. Relying solely on MT when introducing your brand to a new market can thus make your brand look unprofessional. To achieve the highest level of accuracy, human involvement is still unavoidable. Every piece of content that goes through MT has to go through post-editing by a human translator.
Lack of accuracy
Next in line is the lack of accuracy. Some industries use very complex terminology in their day-to-day communication. MT can't match human translation in terms of preciseness and accuracy when translating ambiguous terms. Using MT to translate complex business procedures can lead to misunderstandings and serious consequences. A human translator will ensure consistent, precise, and 100% accurate translation output.
Lack of creativity
A machine is fast, efficient, and cost-effective, but it can't replace human creativity. Language is an art that can only be mastered after thousands of hours of practice and exposure. Creativity is a crucial part of building a unique brand image that stands out. To stand out, you must be different and make sure potential customers notice you. A human translator with your industry experts will know tricks to help you build trust and gain the respect of your new audience.
The first thing to consider when using MT is where you are planning to use the content. While MT can help you translate large volumes of content fast, it doesn't work for every single type of content. Classic human translation is sometimes unavoidable and will outperform MT on all fronts.
But when using MT the right way, is a powerful method to grow your business. MT helps you:
- Reduce translation costs by minimizing the degree of real human involvement.
- Improve translation speed and volume by enabling you to translate thousands of words instantly.
- Increase the number of languages you can translate your content into.
- Keep your brand voice stays consistent in every new market you enter.
Frequently asked questions
What are the most common types of machine translation?
The most common types of machine translation are statistical machine translation, rule-based machine translation, hybrid machine translation, and neural machine translation.
Will machine translation replace translators?
Machine translation will never replace human translators. It is unable to learn how to humanize the translation and adapt to all various grammatical rules, semantics, syntax, and cultural influences on a specific language.
What are the best machine translation softwares?
The best machine translation software options are Google Translate, DeepL, Amazon Translate, Bing Microsoft Translator, etc.