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Machine translation, the method of using software to translate content, has grown in both sophistication and popularity in recent years. With an ever-increasing number of businesses operating across the globe, the demand for content to be translated is growing too.
A recent piece of research by the Common Sense Advisory found that people would prefer to communicate in their mother tongue – something which they predict will drive the language industry’s revenue to US$40 billion for 2016.
And it’s not just translations to and from English. According to a recent article in the Economist, rarely translated Asian languages such as Indonesian and Vietnamese are becoming increasingly important as the countries grow.
Businesses now need to translate their content into a wider range of languages than ever before. So how can machine translation help?
Human translators are much more expensive than machine translation. Using machine translation can significantly reduce costs. If you have a set budget for translation, machine translation means that you can translate much more content than you could have done by using human translators alone.
Machines are able to translate content at a much faster rate than any human translator ever could. Which brings us to our next point…
Machines can work 24/7, 365 days of the year. They don’t need breaks or time off to go on their summer holidays. Content can be translated by machines almost immediately, making machine translation great for constantly changing text, like customer service chats on websites or news about stocks and shares.
If speed really is of the essence then machine translation can be the only option. Machines work at a significantly faster pace than humanly possible, meaning that they can translate vast amounts of content in a much reduced timeframe. This makes machine translation invaluable for large amounts of text….
There are large amounts of text that would never be translated if it was only possible to translate it by humans alone. It would not make any financial or practical sense – and in some cases the text would be so large it would simply not be possible.
Machine translation is also great for large amounts of repetitive content – such as instruction manuals for cars. Machine translation excels at translating this repetitive content in a cost effective way and in a small time frame.
Google Translate is the type of machine translation most of us have heard of. And, because it is just a generic engine that gets its translation data from a variety of free public resources, it sometimes isn’t reliable. Some would say that Google Translate has given machine translation a bad name. Machine translation, when customised and trained, is an invaluable addition to the translation industry.
Machine translation engines can actually be customised and trained for your specific industry, making the quality of translations you receive much higher than generic machine translators such as Google Translate.
Any human changes to the machine translation can also be fed back into machine translation engines, making them produce more and more accurate and higher quality translations over time.
Because of the increasing quality of translations the engine produces, there will be less and less need for any post editing resulting in lowering costs and higher quality results.
Machine translation can be used together with human translators in the post editing stage to produce high quality translations at reduced costs. Varying levels of human input are needed, depending on the type of content that is to be translated. An internal document, for example, could be translated by machine translation alone, whereas a customer facing document would benefit from a human translator full post edit after machine translation.
Having come a long way since the ‘brain’ translated Russian to English in 1954, machine translation is now a real option for businesses looking to translate their content into a range of different languages. In fact, it could be argued that the translation industry would not be able to cope with the global demand for translations if machine translation did not exist.
Machine translation can reduce translation costs, allowing a larger volume of content to be translated within a fixed budget. With customised machine translation able to be trained and updated regularly, your translations will increase in quality over time, which will in turn further lower your costs. A good translation agency should be able to advise you on the best method of translation for you and where, if anywhere, machine translation will fit into your strategy.
Used in the right circumstances, possibly with human translators involved in the post editing process, machine translation can produce high quality, cost effective translations in much shorter timeframes than ever before.