Post-editing: 4 Necessary Skills

Machine translation is playing an increasingly important role in translation services. It has brought with it a rise in post-editing, which involves editing, correcting and changing CAT-generated content.

Post-editing might sometimes be considered “less important”. After all, if artificial intelligence tools produce almost “final” work, we get the impression that only small details and errors are left. But this is not true, as the limitations of CAT tools are well-known.


According to the German teachers Jean Nitzke and Silvia Hansen-Schirra, authors of a post-editing guide published in November 2021, it is “a complex task”. Quoted on the Slator website, they talk about “special skills needed to meet all requirements”. It seems, in fact, that post-editors need to have many of the same qualities as translators, and more. And what are they?


Being a translator


Post-editing should ideally be done by professional translators. Post-editors must be fluent in several languages and be able to establish cultural and linguistic relationships between them. They must also have good research skills. Nonetheless, a good translator is not necessarily a good post-editor. You need other skills…


Being IT literate

You need to be familiar with new technologies in order to use machine translation tools. This includes being able to work with different programmes and formats, keeping up to speed on the latest technologies and handling technical snags that may hold the work back. Part of this literacy also means realising that machine translation should always be used in conjunction with post-editing. With rare exceptions, no automatically-generated text should be validated without some human intervention!


Prevention and correction strategies

Post-editors must be able to systematically and comprehensively spot and correct mistakes and have a good strategy for predicting risks and solving problems. They must perform an in-depth analysis of the text and be fully aware of the limitations of CAT tools, which make mistakes that are not always obvious. When post-editing, even an experienced translator may not be able to detect all the mistakes made by CAT tools.


Soft skills

Finally, we can’t rule out some non-technical cultural and psychosocial skills: concentration, stamina, work ethic, planning skills and a profound knowledge of the culture behind the languages being used.

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