The newly gained popularity of machine translation has created new questions that confuse everyone who is not familiar with the technology. One of these questions is the title of our blog – should you pay for machine translation?
Well, we’re sure that all of you have heard the phrase If the product is free, you are the product. This is why there is no such thing as a truly free machine translation engine, although many believe there is.
Let’s break down why and when you should consider paying for machine translation, although you don’t really feel right doing it (and why this is the case).
When machine translation is mentioned, Google Translate automatically comes to mind. It comes as no surprise as Google Translate has been the most popular machine translation engine for a long time, and nowadays it is integrated with a lot of services, further popularized with Android devices.
The thing is, like all free machine translation engines, Google Translate does not guarantee that the content you are translating will remain private. After all, Google is providing you with a free and easy way to translate content from one language to another. It’s only natural that the content will be used to further improve the product, creating an endless circle.
Many of you can be perfectly fine with this arrangement. As long as everyone is clear about their role in the whole process, no one should have problems with sharing generic translation inquiries with Google. After all, Google Translate by no means tricks users into sharing their content. Additionally, there is a paid version available in which Google confirms that your inquiries won’t be used to improve the machine translation engine and deleted from Google’s servers. The choice is yours.
When you translate generic content (like Excuse me, which way is the nearest restroom? from English to Bosnian), there’s no problem in using the publicly available version of Google Translate to handle your translation. However, if you want to keep your content private, then you need the paid version, which we also use for our clients within our Translation Management System and our translation services.
This is why people often don’t understand why we charge machine translation. We charge it because we also pay for it.
#2. File-based translation
If you translate files, like your company’s documentation, you cannot use free versions of machine translation engines, unless you want to copy and paste dozens of pages because the majority of machine translation engines do not support file translation.
In some cases, you can upload small files, either limited by the size of the file, or the number of words within the file. In other words, if you need to translate a 100-word file, you might find free alternatives online. If you are translating larger files, you will not be able to machine-translate such files for free.
Even if you copy-paste your content or split it into smaller pieces, and even if you don’t care about the privacy aspect, you will often want to post-edit the machine-translated content with your colleagues, partners, friends, or have it reviewed by a translator. In this case, there is no way to achieve that without having a system in the background which will enable you to provide other people access to the machine-translated content.
The system should also save these post-edited translations so that you can re-use them in the future, right? In industry-specific lingo, the content should be saved in translation memories which can be re-used for future translations, keeping consistency, and lowering costs. This solution is useful specifically for those, who translate the content recurrently.
If you translate a file today, and next Monday you have an updated version of the file, how will you extract the new content for translation? Imagine if your colleague from France post-edits the machine translation into French. Will this now also be lost, if you run machine translation again?
For situations like this, you need a system that will analyze the content, compare it against the old versions of the file, and only extract the new content for translation. Even if you are paying for machine translation, you will not be paying to machine-translate the whole file, but only the new content.
All these features are included in modern Translation Management Systems to help you translate content more efficiently. For example, in our TMS, you will clearly see how many words are machine-translated, and how many words we can re-use from previous translations. You will still pay to machine-translate new content, but I hope that the above points helped in explaining why we charge machine translation.
And if you need to translate large amounts of content in a fast and the most cost-effective way there is, we recommend you our translation services platform, TUFT, where you can see the price of a translation upfront, choosing the quality level.
Still not sure about the best solution for you?
If you need to translate files, want to save money, and care about privacy, reach out to us. We can discuss our machine translation setup without any strings attached.
If you like what you read, you can test the system yourself for 14 days. We will help you with questions, and with finding the best workflow for your content.