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  • Writer's pictureAna Catarina Lopes

Do I really need a human to work on my text? MTPE’s pros and cons

Loved by many, hated by even more, MTPE was a game-changer in the translation industry. When used correctly, it can be extremely helpful, but it can also be a recipe for disaster if you do it the wrong way. In this article, I’ll tell you all about the essentials of MTPE.

Do I really need a human to work on my text? MTPE’s pros and cons

MTPE has come to stay and it plays an increasingly relevant role in many fields of translation nowadays.

While some professionals refuse to provide this service, others have overcome the fear of being replaced by robots. Making use of a new set of skills, they have added MTPE to their service portfolio.

What is MTPE?

MTPE stands for Machine Translation Post-Editing. This means that you use software or a learning algorithm based on a neural network to translate a text.

This is an extremely useful tool when you need to translate a huge amount of text into one or more languages in a relatively short period of time.

However, we must not forget that there is no such thing as a perfect MT system, one that you can use to render a flawless translation similar to human translated texts.

MT: let the artificial intelligence do the core work

MT (machine translation) is the technical part of MTPE. This will allow you to translate huge amounts of text in a blink of an eye from one language into another (or more) just by pressing a button (well, there are a few other steps in the between, but that’s basically it).

Depending on the quality of the MT engine and the subject and purpose of the text, the result might vary from fairly good to really bad in terms of readability and overall quality.

That’s where the next part of our acronym plays its very important part.

PE: a sprinkle of human makes everything better

PE (post-editing) refers to the step after getting your text translated by a machine. This is when it gets checked by a professional translator or linguist who will work on the target text to make it correct, coherent, and consistent.

They will also make sure the correct terminology and tone of voice are being used consistently throughout the text, and that it will meet the intended purpose and target audience.

How do I know if I should use MTPE in my project?

Firstly, you should always consult with a professional translator to help you understand if MTPE is the suitable option for your project.

While MTPE has shown to produce good quality translations and be cost-effective in some highly technical fields (particularly those that involve large volumes of text), in fields like marketing, advertising and UX/UI copy (not to mention actual literature) you’ll need wit, irony and social context – which machines simply do not have and will not convey into the target text.

Using MT in these situations might even take up more of your time and money.

So, if you are using, or planning to use, automatic translation to offer multilingual content, remember: MT should always be followed by PE!

You should assess the source text nature and purpose first, ideally with the help of a professional, and then figure out if MTPE will be the right choice for you.


About the author:

Ana Catarina is an English to Portuguese translator specialized in Healthcare and Marketing. She helps foreign companies to launch their brand and products in the Portuguese market by translating, localizing and transcreating their client-targeted contents to make them appealing to the Portuguese public.


Med & Mark - A blog about medical and marketing translation
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