The Future of Machine Translation

The Future of Machine Translation

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Today we will discuss one of the most debated topics in the translation industry  – the future of machine translation. While there are many myths and superstitions surrounding the topic, you should take all of them with a grain of salt, both the good and the bad.

What is machine translation?

A very simplified definition is that machine translation is the use of computer software for translating spoken or written content from one language to another. This differs from CAT (computer-aided translation) in the sense that machine translation is supposed to be automatic, hence also the term automatic translation used for machine translation.

Three types of machine translation 

There are three major types of machine translation:

  • Rule-based: translates content from one language to another following the rules for a certain language (like grammar)
  • Statistical: uses large bilingual corpora to find the most likely translation
  • Neural: uses neural networks (imitating biological networks) and deep learning (several layers of processing, therefore ‘deep’) in order to translate content

 The industry standard – neural machine translation 

Neural machine translation is used by all major providers, such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, and DeepL.

We have also implemented it into our system, as neural machine translation was taking the stage a couple of years ago, and since then it has been a crucial part of our TMS.

At the moment, all users have the option to machine-translate whole files (file in, file out), and to post-edit machine translated content, either themselves (with colleagues or other team members), or to outsource it to one of our specialists.

 What does this mean for you?

It means the flexibility of choice! You can easily discuss a specific case you have at hand and decide which approach that uses machine translation suits you best.

We have clients who use machine translation, even without the post-editing done by a native speaker, extensively for the translation of support e-mails and simple website content.

We also have clients who use the help of reviewing specialists to check the machine-translated content for consistency and accuracy.

Some content, such as legal content, or your marketing materials, are probably still better off with a human translator, who will understand the nuances you need to achieve in order to get a perfect translation.

 The future of machine translation

That being said, machine translation is a very useful asset, compared to only 4-5 years ago. Back in the day, machine translation had a bad reputation, while nowadays the tables have turned completely with people looking at machine translation as a magical solution to a problem which has existed since the dawn of time.

As with most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in between.  The future of machine translation is definitely brighter than it was – MT as an everyday tool is being developed and updated as we speak. However, the creators still didn’t manage to come up with an idea for the machines to understand the context.

At this stage of our lives, machine translation still cannot be left to translate content without human supervision. Humans still need to confirm and tweak the final results, but with enough feedback and the use of machine learning, which can also be used as part of the Text United’s TMS, machine translation can become extremely useful for certain types of content it was trained to translate.

For now, the future of machine translation is that – it will continue to enable translators to work more efficiently and to translate more text than ever before, without compromising the quality.

 Machine translation at Text United

You can find out about the benefits of machine translation by simply using it! Let’s start with the human touch – by talking to one of Text United project managers! Together we can decide whether your content can be translated fully or partially by machines. Feel free to reach out and learn more about your options – no strings attached!

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