Translation Workflow

Translation Options: Human Translation, Machine Translation and MT Post-Editing

In Smartling, you can select your preferred translation option for each content type by configuring multiple workflows. The two main options to choose between are human translation and machine translation (MT). The translation options can be combined in a workflow to achieve the best of both machine with human.


Translation Workflow Options

Each translation option has its advantages and disadvantages. To achieve the best possible results, it is important to match the content type with the appropriate translation workflow, and consider the value and exposure of the content you want to translate.

Let's explore some of the most common translation workflow options, along with the pros, cons, and use cases for each.

  1. Machine Translation (MT)
  2. Machine Translation with Post-Editing (MTPE)
  3. Professional human translation and editing
  4. Review and sign-off by your internal team

1. Machine Translation (MT)


Machine translation has come a long way since its beginnings. Nowadays, neural machine translation (NMT) adapts to grammatical structures and allows for a more accurate and natural sounding translation of entire sentences. 

However, not all MT engines produce quality results for all language pairs and content types. But then again, quality is subjective. It is essential to test an MT engine's translation between a language pair with a specific content type to assess the quality against your standards.

Smartling integrates with several Machine Translation engines and even offers an intelligent routing service which automatically picks the best MT provider for your content and language pairs.

 Pros: Although it is still counted towards processed words, machine translation is the fastest and cheapest solution. Using machine translation for the right content types can help you optimize your translation cost and speed.

❎  Cons: With machine translation, it is difficult to maintain your unique brand voice and the translations don't always sound idiomatic and native to your audience. Your Style Guide cannot be taken into consideration. Glossary entries can only be taken into consideration for selected language pairs. Unedited machine translation is not saved to your translation memory, and therefore cannot be leveraged in future translations. In the long run, trying to cut costs by avoiding a Post Machine Revision step could end up costing more.

⚙️  Use cases: Machine translation on its own is ideal for testing purposes or for translating low-visibility content with a short shelf life that only requires a translation to convey the general meaning, rather than accurate localization. Machine translation is not an appropriate choice for high-visibility creative content, such as brand slogans or subtitle translation.

2. Machine Translation with Post-Editing (MTPE)


Smartling supports the combination of Machine Translation with proofreading by a human linguist, with the addition of a Post Machine Revision step, usually referred to as MTPE, or Machine Translation Post-Editing. This is a cost-saving option, resulting in higher quality translations than with just a raw machine translations.

✅   Pros: The human editor can apply Glossary entries where appropriate, and make light edits to correct any grammatical or cultural mistakes in the translations. As the machine translations have then been submitted to the next step in the workflow by a human, the translations are saved to the translation memory and can then be leveraged in SmartMatch for future translation. Combined with a human editing step, Machine Translation can produce good results for content that is not highly creative but requires a literal, straightforward translation.

❎  Cons: Although this is another cost-effective options, editing can delay the turnaround time for translations. MT translation quality is not comparable to human translation. 

⚙️  Use cases: Like machine translation, MTPE is not an appropriate choice for high-visibility creative content, such as brand slogans or subtitle translation. However, with the right editor in the workflow, these translations can work well for technical content, such as user manuals, knowledge bases, medial and legal documents.


3. Professional human translation and editing


Most translation vendors include an Editing step in their translation offering. This means that as soon as a first linguist has translated your content, a second linguist proofreads the translations.

 Pros: The editing step ensures that the translations contain no mistakes and sound native to your target market. Your Style Guide and Glossary are taken into consideration by the linguists, so they can apply your preferred terminology and tone of voice. Your translation memory can also be leveraged to further reduce cost and turnaround time.

❎  Cons: There are no disadvantages in terms of translation quality. However, human translation takes longer to complete than machine translation. Depending on your chosen vendor, the quality of content and your needs, you may be faced with additional Project Management fees. While the initial costs are generally higher compared to machine translation workflows, careful human translation can help avoid costly and time-consuming re-translation at a later point. 

⚙️  Use cases: A two-step workflow including professional translation and editing is a great choice for most content types, including high-visibility, creative content.


4. Review and sign-off by your internal team


Members of your organization who are native speakers of your target languages can be set up as internal reviewers in Smartling and approve, amend or reject the translations delivered by your translation vendor.

 Pros: Your internal team members know your product and brand best. They can tailor the translations to accurately reflect your brand image.

❎  Cons: As your internal teams typically can't fully dedicate their time to the proofreading process, an internal review step often leads to delays. A well-maintained Style Guide and Glossary can typically eliminate the need for it. 

⚙️  Use cases: An internal review step can help ensure that your desired brand image is preserved, especially for content types that are highly visible and difficult to amend at a later point (such as print material). For critical legal documents, an internal review step allows your local legal teams to sign off on the translations.

Was this article helpful?