HOW GOOD ARE MACHINE TRANSLATIONS (PART 2)?
As we have already seen in the previous article, the quality of a machine translation (MT) will initially depend on the quality of the MT tool used. However, it will ultimately always depend on the translator in charge of post-editing the automatically obtained text.
But there is another factor that is out of the translator’s control, but which has some influence on the quality of the translation: the quality of the original text. While it is relatively easy for a translator to detect a mistake in the original document (whether it be a typo, an omission or poorly constructed syntax), the MT tool will simply transpose this error into the machine translation. There are some texts that are so poorly written in their original version that no matter how good the MT tool may be, it will always produce unsatisfactory results that will leave the translator with much more work editing the text than there would be involved in translating the original text from scratch.
Some major international brands also have style rules for their English-language product manuals. These rules both standardise the content, making them easier for customers and consumers to read and understand, and because, from a translation perspective, a well-written text is easier to translate into other languages.
There are also certain types of text that do not lend themselves very well to being machine translated. Such texts are generally more creative, use idioms and colloquial language or employ linguistic subtleties that it is important to convey in the translation. This is often the case with marketing and advertising copy.
These are just some of the factors that should be taken into account when determining whether or not the text is suitable for machine translation.
When it is not suitable, the translator will dispense with the MT tool to avoid wasting more time than they would were they to follow their usual workflow.