It’s MT and translators, not MT vs. translators

Rodrigo is an enterprise level Business Development Manager with over 10 years’ experience in the localisation industry. In this blog post, he discusses why machine translation shouldn’t be seen as a damaging, useless tool that will make human translators redundant, and how we can harness this advanced, intelligent technology to everyone’s advantage.

I keep on reading about a number of views on MT (machine translation) and PEMT (post-edited machine translation) across the localisation industry that really scare me. Some LSPs (language service providers) seem to be portraying MT as a serious threat to the industry. Their opinion seems to be “either you’re for MT and therefore against the translators, or vice-versa”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of this false information is fuelled by the fact that some LSPs either do not have access to good MT technology that they can control; do not understand how buyers, translators and LSPs themselves can benefit from MT; or are threatened by a potential overall revenue stream reduction.

When is MT appropriate?

The use of MT depends on the original content, subject matter, purpose and intended audience. Machine translation works best on structured content, such as technical subject matter, user manuals, or manufacturing related material.

What are the benefits of MT?

file transfer Improved productivity

Machine translation can improve the capacity of the linguist, allowing for more content to be translated, with reduced costs and within a shorter time frame.

Finance - It’s MT and translators, not MT vs. translators Lower translation costs

Effective deployment of these tools can see translation costs and turnaround times reduced by up to 30%, without any sacrifice in quality.

Speed - It’s MT and translators, not MT vs. translators Reduced time to market

Automating part of the process obviously reduces the turnaround time. Studies indicate that a translator carrying out post-editing can produce 5,000 to 10,000 words per day, in comparison to 2,000 through human-only translation.

Security - It’s MT and translators, not MT vs. translators Security

Advanced machine translation engines, maintained by professional LSPs, ensure that all client information is stored within a secure data centre, and all translation projects are managed and performed within a central ecosystem, rather than files being transferred via unsecure email networks or stored on linguists’ personal computers.

A means to an end

My view is very clear about this topic: MT should not be perceived as an end in our industry. It’s a means to an end. When properly integrated within a localisation workflow and applied to the right content type, customised MT is a powerful tool that brings benefits to both clients and translators.

The combination of customised MT with ‘best of breed’ linguists will increase productivity and keep language quality where it should be. For MT to be successful in this industry, we need to ensure responsibility, manage expectations and set the correct criteria for applying it to localisation workflows.

Liked this blog post? Why not read…

7 tips to make your content ready for machine translation

Let’s talk about…secure machine translation

An introduction to machine translation white paper: what, when, why and how?


Part of the manufacturing localisation team, Rodrigo is a seasoned localisation professional with a passion for sports, sun and fun.

Share this story

Sign up to our newsletter

Sign up