Using MT as a tool for translation quality control

Back translation is a very effective, very stringent quality process which is often used in medical translation. In a standard translation process, the translator translates the document; an editor then reviews the translation and makes corrections. A more robust process involves back translation, in which a second translator translates the foreign language document back to the original language. The original and back-translated versions are compared in order to validate the accuracy of the translation and to avoid mistranslations, missing text and other translation errors. Click here to read an article I wrote a while back on the subject of back translation.

Machine translation software, like Google Translation and Microsoft Translator, can be an effective way to validate a human translation. Just take the translation you received from a translator and use one of the automatic translation software programs to back translate it into the original language. The back translation may not always be high quality, but it will certainly allow you to test for missing words or mistranslations.

One of the good things about using MT for translation quality control is that it is free. It also allows the editor to suggest an alternate translation to the one used by your translator. But most importantly, it allows someone who does not even know the target language to apply some quality control to a translation. For example, say that you ordered a translation from English to German and do not know much German. Using MT for back translation will allow you to keep your translators honest by checking the work without having to assign a linguist to review the work.

Disclaimer: A back translation obtained using machine translation software may be incorrect. But even when this is the case, it never hurts to have your translator check a certain sentence again to see if it can be improved. The purpose of Quality Control is to improve the quality of a translation. And using MT for back translation can often help improve quality.

3 thoughts on “Using MT as a tool for translation quality control

  1. Back-translating human translation with machine is indeed interesting and provides a way for quality controls. But even more interesting is back-translating machine translation. I give an example of what we are developing (at Multilizer).
    1. Machine translate original text
    2. Back-translate the machine translation
    3. Apply automatic quality control

    With this procedure you may have identified e.g. 15% of translations that are very probably correct and require no or very little post-editing. This means that LSP can quote a price that is e.g. 5% lower than normally and still have a higher profit (because 15% of translations require no or very little post-editing)!

  2. Hi Niko, very ingenious indeed. So what you are saying is that in Multilizer, you can post-edit MT quickly because Multilizer tags sentences that require little attention and the editor can ignore those sentences. Is this a publicly released product? How can you buy it? Please give me more details, we can write it up in a separate blog post. Best, Dave

  3. Hi Dave, you understood the idea correctly. This is not yet publicly available. We are testing it ourselves and looking for partners with medium translation volumes to test it too. After we have tested it with sufficient volumes we will publish the product. If there is anyone interested in participating in test use, please contact me at niko.papula@multilizer.com.