Machine translation

Machine translation has been a hot topic in language industry circles during the past decade.

At some point it was predicted that the machine translation technology would be in a position to replace all human linguists and the professional translator’s profession would therefore cease to exist. Judging by the fact that hundreds of new translation companies continue to spring up every year, these predictions seem inaccurate. Nevertheless, machine translation technology enhancements have transformed the language industry, and sometimes machine translation (MT) technologies may be the best, if not the only, option. 

For an insight into our approach to using MT technology,
please take a look at the most common questions:

What is machine translation and how does it work?

Have you heard of Google Translate? Well, it’s one of the most popular free machine translation tools for translating your source content into target languages. If you take your time to play around with it, you’ll see that in most cases, it’s enough to give you a good idea of what the text is about, but you wouldn‘t want to share this translation with your clients, vendors or other third parties.

This is why machine translation engines, platforms and systems are exactly that – tools, not solutions! Tools which, when combined with the professional expertise of translation project managers, expert linguists and a proven quality assurance system, can help to translate large volumes of your content far faster and more affordably.

When should you consider using machine translation?

  1. When you are in a rush and have large volumes of content that you need to translate very urgently, the machine translation can save the day. The machine translation software provides the raw output which is then improved by PortLingo’s linguists who are specialized in editing and reviewing machine-translated content.
  2. When your translation budget is tight, as post-editing and reviewing of machine-translated content are significantly cheaper than a professional human translation.
  3. When you have a room for an error rate and do not necessarily need your translation to be perfect. PortLingo will ensure that your machine-translated content is acceptable for its intended purpose and does not have any significant errors or mistranslations. Our machine translation post-editing service is a reliable solution for supporting your routine day-to-day business operations, but in terms of overall quality and text fluency, it will never be as good as professional human translation.
  4. When the content wouldn’t be translated otherwise (too expensive, high text volume, localization by a human translator would take too long, etc.) as bringing your product to foreign markets will greatly increase your chances of winning new business, even if the translation is not 100% perfect.

What kind of content work best for machine translation?

Machine Translation is best suited to large volumes of text with relatively unambiguous sentences such as product specifications, descriptions, e-learning, standard business communication, technical manuals and assembly instructions, product catalogues, support documentation, customer support and other standard documents.

When machine translation doesn’t work

The biggest setback for machine translation is its inability to pick up on linguistic nuances and metaphors in the same way humans can. For projects that necessitate quality or creativity, machine translation is not an option. Such disciplines include creative marketing, health care and other texts of high complexity.

Which service should you choose?

In most cases, our professional recommendation would always be to opt for a professional human translation. However, if you’re looking for ways to save your localization budget, improve your translation turnaround time or boost your translation volumes, machine translation might be the right fit for you.

However, since each case is unique, we would recommend that you contact us first for a free consultation or our non-binding price estimate.