The Importance of Post-editing for Machine Translation

Translation has become a necessity for companies that operate globally or who want to enter new markets. And as the importance of translation increases, machine translation engines have also been on the rise in recent years. With its popularity growing and due to the rapid advancement of technology, over the last few years, machine translation engines have advanced tremendously. Machine translation engines have improved in accuracy to the point that they are now able to compete with professional human translators. Machine translation guarantees shorter turnaround times and cost reduction. But they still miss an essential understanding of idioms, expressions, syntax and grammar that professional human translators are able to cover.

This is why the importance of post-editing for machine translation is essential as the human touch is still a necessity for translation accuracy. In this article let’s dgo deeper into this topic and its importance.


What is Post-editing for Machine Translation?

Machine translation post-editing is the most reasonable way to combine the best of both worlds: it helps to combine the speed of artificial intelligence and the knowledge of trained linguists. Machine translation post-editing is the best way to handle big amounts of text quickly and without sacrificing the quality for quantity.  It is a creative way to achieve the benefits of Machine Translation while also making sure a certain level of accuracy is to have an extra editing step after  Machine Translation.

Basically, post-editing machine translation is the process of proofreading texts translated by a machine engine aiming to improve the quality of translation to achieve the same level of quality as human translation. During post-editing, a professional editor evaluates and edits machine-translated information to verify the accuracy, as well as to make some adjustments for cultural accuracy, correct words and phrases, specialized terminology, and other factors.


Post-editing machine translation is good for:

  • Checking the errors – As machine translation engines are not yet so advanced to be able to cover all grammatical and linguistic nuances, post-editing machine translation is here to save the situation. It helps to fix any grammatical and linguistic errors that there might be in the text by professional linguists who understand the complexity of both target and source languages.
  • Consistency checking – it is a great way to go over the structure of the content, spelling and terminology to make sure it is consistent throughout the entire content.
  • Clarity checking – post-editing machine translation helps in determining if the information is clear and understandable to anyone from the intended target audience.


The Importance of Post-editing for Machine Translation

Machine translation is fast and cheap. It is so fast that it can handle millions of words per hour, which is something that human translators cannot do. But with that said the quality is lower as machine translation engines cannot handle more complicated and sophisticated content, unlike professional human translators. This is why it is important to go for a post-editing for machine translation.

Another reason why post-editing for machine translation is important is the fact that sometimes it so happens that machine translation engines translate the same word in different ways making the content inconsistent. Machine translation engines may also do too literal translation making the content inaccurate and impossible to read and understand correctly. And last but not least, Machine translation engines are not too advanced when it comes to grammar and syntax meaning that grammatical or syntax issues are very common in translations done by machine translation.

All these reasons make post-editing for machine translation important. Although post-editing is not as fast as a translation done by only machine translation engines, it is still faster than human translation. It is also less costly than a translation done totally by a professional translator.


Types of Post-Editing

Now that we have discussed why post-editing for machine translation is important, we can go ahead to discover the two types of post-editing. Post-editing starts the moment the machine translation engine finishes with translation. Because the amount of post-editing required varies from project to project, it is critical to set your expectations early. Time, quality, and money are the three most important factors to consider. Choose the correct way to build your post-editing strategy around this. There are two types of post-editing strategies: Light post-editing or LPE and Full post-editing or FPE. Below we will discuss them in more details:


Light post-editing (LPE)

The light post-editing method can provide quick and cost-effective solutions. When going for light post-editing, machine translation is only adjusted when it is absolutely essential. It is done only to guarantee that the output is intelligible and accurately represents the message of the original content. When choosing light post-editing as a strategy, the post-editor should be especially aware of flaws that may obstruct or even sabotage the document’s final goal. It is important to be aware of it as raw machine translation can produce humiliating results if not reviewed. With light post-editing ideally, the editor should make as few changes as possible.


Full post-editing (FPE)

Content that has undergone full post-editing should look like and make the reader think that it was written in the target language from the start. This method is slower and more costly than light post-editing but it produces higher quality results.

When going for full post-editing, raw machine translation is rigorously inspected and adjusted to make sure that there are no possible errors. While light post-editing focuses solely on accuracy and legibility, full post-editing takes into account a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The content’s stylistic and tonal coherence also taking into account other relevant texts and appropriate documents.
  • The absence of any grammatical flaws.
  • Suitable cultural adaptations for the target language such as idiomatic expressions.



Even though machine translation has come a long way, the human element of translation is still required to ensure that the accuracy of communication is maintained. And this is why post-editing for machine translation is the best choice for a lot of companies. You can also read more on weather machine translation can replace human translations.

If you need high-quality translation services for your company, contact Verbika to learn more about our translation services. We are here to assist you in selecting the best option for your business.