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4 Tips for Getting Better Machine Translation Results


More and more people use machine translation, as it is becoming increasingly effective. Still, the more you use it, the more reasons you may find to distrust it, especially if you’re translating into a language you aren’t fluent in. Machine translation can be a great productivity tool, but its power greatly depends on the type of content and language combination you use.

When a business sets out to enter a new foreign market, it usually needs to adapt the customer experience for its product or service to local expectations and habits. To what extent can it rely on machine translation engines, though? For example, is Google Translate accurate enough to help them make the most of their global expansion effort?

The simple answer is that while human, professional translators might never be entirely replaced by ones and zeros, you can get a decent machine translation and save a lot of money and time, regardless of the purpose of the translation.

1. Hire a professional localization service

When you’re entering a new market, one of the first steps to make is localize your website. And the first order of business will be to translate the content, the product or service details, the company’s story, and so on. But simply translating word for word, something most machine translation tools will do, isn’t enough. To be appealing to the new target market, the content you use to communicate with your ideal clients must sound to them like it was originally intended for them as if it was written in their native tongue. 

If, for instance, you are using a catchy, unique slogan for your brand, a machine will translate it literally. This is where the necessity for intervention by a professional, who will fix the errors in the machine translation, becomes obvious. 

2. Train your MT engine to understand your industry

Machine translation systems lack the contextual knowledge of human translators and will merely render an exact literal translation of what they process. If there is a mistranslated word, it will lose all meaning in the target language. The same thing may happen in the original text, but a human reader would be able to spot the mistake and figure out from the surrounding text which word should be used

That being said, your texts will always go through the linguistic editor whether they’re going to be translated or not. Punctuation has the same effect. The meaning of a phrase might shift if a comma was placed incorrectly, and the translation would reflect this change.

Moreover, reliable machine translation tools are going to keep learning, so if you keep feeding the system, by correcting the translation, it can improve its work. Depending on your needs, you can perform a more or less extensive correction, but you must perform at least some level of correction for the automatic translation to serve its intended purpose, which is to provide better and better translations in less and less time. 

It’s also important to note that different tools might be better suited for different languages. When you aren’t fluent in a language, it can be even harder to be certain if a machine translation is good enough. So, to successfully enter a new market, make sure that you use the best tools and have the best people on the job.

3. Work on the original content

Pre-work, or everything that can be done to the content before it reaches the translator, is one of the most underappreciated techniques to increase the accuracy of any translation. It’s important to keep in mind that a translation can only be as good as the original text it’s based on.

If you want your translation to be great in every way, you should spend time getting the source material ready and, where necessary, writing it in a way that will make it easy to translate. 

4. Adjust your writing style 

To avoid “confusing” your translation tool, you should keep a few factors in mind when writing the source file. You can determine how much you can rely on a machine translation depending on the type of translation you need, and its purpose. Nevertheless, there are some things you can do to ensure it’s more accurate, including:

  • Using shorter sentences
  • Proofreading for proper sentence structure
  • Keeping your phrase construction straightforward
  • Simplifying the use of adverbs
  • Staying away from acronyms
  • Being consistent with the use of terminology
  • Avoiding the use of jargon and vague language

Conclusion

To be completely certain of the accuracy of a translation, it’s best to work with a professional translation service. However, if you’re looking to cut expenses, machine translation with human post-editing can be tailored to fit your needs.

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