The Many Flavors of Machine Translation

Machine TranslationIn today’s global business environment, consumers anticipate that companies will interact with them in their native language for everything from customer support to product information. If your business is looking to translate material into different languages, you must consider the amount of content that’s needed to meet consumer expectations and then multiply that by the number of languages you plan on providing. Your budget and timeframe will dictate how much content you’ll be able to translate. Luckily, automated translation is designed to make translation projects more reasonable when it comes to cost and turnaround time. There are several different types of automated translation, with machine translation (MT) being one of them. MT is the use of computer software and applications to translate text from one language to another. Usually, MT is used by language service providers (LSPs) as just one component of a whole translation process. To ensure the highest quality translation, the MT engine is customized by expert linguists who then post-edit the raw machine output to achieve the desired results.


How Does MT Work?

As mentioned earlier, LSPs treat MT as one piece of a Machine Translationtotal translation process. Here at Lionbridge, we combine MT with Translation Memory (TM) — a database of previously translated terms — to provide a hybrid approach. First, text is matched against a TM, and if a perfect match is not found, then the text goes through the MT process. In general, MT works best with large amounts of content. There is some initial language work that is required to customize an MT engine with the precise terminology and language guidelines associated with the target languages and the content’s domain. For example, the word “trim” is probably going to be translated in a different manner depending on the audience or industry — i.e., automotive, hairstyling, yachting, fashion and design, or health and fitness. Translations are run through the MT engine and the quality of the unedited output is evaluated. Based on these results and any feedback gathered, the engine is then further adjusted.


Types of MT Offered By Lionbridge

Lionbridge offers three types of MT to meet the rising demand for lower cost alternatives in translation projects. Each one features a unique level of complexity and output quality.

  1. Machine Translation with Full Post-Edit – This approach is best for maximizing the efficiency of MT without sacrificing quality. It is a two-step process that features a quick round of MT followed by a full human post-edit session. The post-editing enhances the raw MT output with accurate content, while also considering cultural nuances, local references, and industry jargon. It delivers up to 30% savings over strictly human translation and is best suited for high-exposure, high-value content.
  2. Smart Automated Translation: For customers lookingMachine Translation for even greater savings — between 40 and 80% — Lionbridge uses Smart Automated Translation (SAT), an exclusive approach that uses language translation technology tools to cut document files into strings. SAT then combines the similar strings, and machine translates them. The result is a project with fewer overall words and less file management requirements. A targeted human post-editing effort (based on content type and topic) furthers the efficiency of the SAT process. Click here to learn more about Smart Automated Translation.
  3. Raw Machine Translation – Raw (unedited) MT is the lowest cost option and is most suitable for lower-visibility content. With raw MT, the quality depends entirely on the intelligence of the MT engine and how well it is customized. Lionbridge MT engines are constantly modified to exceed the accuracy of standard online translation tools. The use of raw MT offers time and cost savings, as well as higher-volume processing for lower-level content.


Lionbridge is here to help you choose which approach is best for your translation project requirements. For more information about the variety of machine translation services we offer and which one is right for your needs, visit our website.

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