Guidelines for Post-Editing Machine Translated Content

Guidelines for Post-Editing Machine Translated Content

Machine translation (MT) systems like Google, Microsoft and DeepL have made dramatic progress over the last years. What was once the butt of many jokes has now approached (for some kinds of texts) near human quality. With ever-increasing volumes of content which needs to get translated, many organizations are turning to MT. Some organizations have developed customized MT systems that are trained in a specific domain. This yields even better translation quality. The cost savings inherent in using MT can be very high, also resulting in faster speed to market with translated content.

But still, the quality of MT is not perfect and can lead to mistranslated content and incorrect content. So at some point, the translation industry came up with a new service level: post-edited machine translation or PEMT.

What is PEMT?

PEMT, an abbreviation of post-edited machine translation, refers to a workflow in which text is initially translated by software.  It is then sent off for review to professional translators who edit the text and correct the sentences that were done poorly by the MT software. In an ideal scenario, PEMT can yield perfect translations which cost much less than a pure human process.

PEMT Guidelines

Here are some guidelines and best practices for post-editing machine translated content. Remember that the purpose of post-editing website content is to achieve good translation quality in the shortest time possible. So you should only change what is essential to ensure clear understanding and grammatical correctness of the content. Do not dwell too much on stylistic issues. If a sentence is grammatically correct and is an accurate translation of the original, try not to spend time to improve it. There will probably be plenty of other sentences that need more work.

Other tips:

1. Correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
2. Ensure that foreign language accents are present and in the correct positions.
3. Look for common errors made by machine translation engines:

  • Mistranslated words
  • Words that were translated correctly but are incorrect in the present context.
  • Words and terms that were translated but should not be translated and should remain in the source language
  • Incorrect abbreviations

Try and follow the recommended guidelines when preparing and writing content for machine translation. That should make the machine translation a lot better and minimize the need for post-editing.

If you see recurring patterns in your post-editing, submit the feedback to your content owner. This information can be used to train the machine translation engine so that these errors do not recur.