Summary of 2019: Will Translation Extinct as a Profession?

Summary of 2019: Will Translation Extinct as a Profession?

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What comes to your mind when you hear “Machine Translation”? Do you feel the end coming? Do you think about the end of translation as a profession? Do you imagine yourself jobless after the machine has taken over?

 Advancements in technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are creating a competition and a challenge, where the workforce needs to be more intelligent, aware and understanding of the progressions being made to be steps ahead.

 The output of the neural machine translation (NMT) is getting better and better. However, the involvement of skilled human translators is indispensable to safeguard quality. At the moment, there’s a lack of trained post-editors!

 In recent years, post-editing skills have become much more of an asset and sometimes a requirement for translators working in the language industry. Machine Translation has grown considerably in popularity, and the demand for post-editing services has grown in line with it.

 Professional translators are at a disadvantage in that they must make certain to remain updated with the latest technologies. This article offers some tips for translators to keep pace with continuously updating technologies in the workplace, and to help them adapt to technological improvements in the translation process and to changing market needs.

Get to know the MT standards, key terms and concepts related to machine translation and post-editing:

Before working on a post-editing job, you should ensure whether the task is Full post-editing or Light post-editing.

  • Full post-editing:

 Human-like publishable quality (same, as if no MT is used).

The goal of full post-editing is to make the most of the usable parts of the MT text; and at the same time, to make the translation linguistically correct, stylistically elevated, terminologically accurate, and consistent.

  • Light post-editing:

Making the text at an understandable level of translation (making the most of the MT, focusing on speed over quality).

The goal of light post-editing is to make the MT text understandable and adherent to client’s specific requirements concerning the quality of certain elements of the text, e.g.: the client may ask to make sure that product names are left untranslated, or always capitalized, etc.

Consider MT suggestions in CAT tools, when post-editing a project which involves MT:

Usually, the clients provide pre-translated files, in most cases, any matches above 70-75% come from the TM(s), and are handled as in any project, but anything below a 70-75% match is machine-translated content and requires post-editing. If there is no existing TM leverage, the whole text may be machine translated. Post-editors can choose whether to opt for the MT match, a lower TM fuzzy match, or come up with their own translation, but the goal of post-editing is to identify usable parts of MT text and build around these rather than ignore MT suggestions completely and translate from scratch.

Get to know post-editing speed:

The speed a translator can carry out post-editing is directly linked to the quality of the MT output and the post-editor’s experience. A translator may be expected to process 2500-3K words a day, instead of the standard 2K words, provided a MT engine is well trained and produces good quality output.

Get to know the difference between Post-editing & Translating:

Post-editing is a very different process from translation, while translating a text form scratch requires reading the source segment, then translating it. But post-editing requires

  • reading the target segment (raw MT).
  • reading the source segment.
  • asking yourself whether the meaning is the same (if you spend 2 seconds looking at an MT segment, and see that you cannot easily edit it to produce a well-flowing translation, discard it and translate it from scratch or use a lower fuzzy match from the TM, instead.)
  • asking yourself whether the existing mistakes really need to be fixed, or if you are wasting your time on preferential changes.
  • editing raw MT, if required, or starting the translation from scratch (Use the MT as a source of inspiration when looking for the correct translation and pick out bits of the sentence to reuse rather than trying to keep as much of the sentence as possible.)

Get to know common errors made by post-editors:

Below is a list of common errors made by post-editors:

  • Unedited TM fuzzy matches
  • Inconsistently translated terms
  • Translated Do Not Translate Words (DNTs)
  • Unnoticed untranslated words, omitted words, added words
  • Unattended mistranslations
  • Acronyms incorrectly rendered in target
  • Grammar mistakes
  • Under-edited content (Always read through the translation before submitting it. Machine translated content includes false friends and spacing issues – take it for granted and be vigilant. Set QA settings to pick up typos, duplicate words, and trailing spaces. Watch out for term consistency. Usually, the content you are post-editing should be of the same high quality as human translation.)
  • Over-edited content: (Avoid introducing preferential changes – you are risking introducing inconsistent translations and wasting your time. Just follow client-specific instructions and consult project’s TM and TB)

Track the time spent on post-editing:

Make sure to track the time spent on post-editing, and to provide feedback on MT output (especially if you are working on a large MT project).

Get to know the prices of the service you are providing:

If you want to set your own rate: work out how many words you can translate in an hour with the aid of machine translation, then multiply that by your usual per-word rate to get the per-hour rate that you should aim for.

So, for example, if you can translate 300 words per hour without machine translation, and 500 words with MT, and your rate is €0.09 per word, then you should charge €45.00 per hour for PEMT. The fact that you can translate only 300 words per hour without machine translation is not really relevant.

If you want to know what is the minimum offer to accept for PEMT, well, just think of your usual per-hour rate.

If you are a machine translation post editor, share your experience with us. And if you want to be a certified machine translation post editor, you can ask for your language course from here.

Written by Sayed Elattar, Senior Translator and certified MTPE.

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