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Thinking of doing Machine Translation post-editing: any advice?
Thread poster: Laura Gentili

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:35
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Feb 18, 2002

I was contacted by a translation company with an offer for machine translation post-editing of medical texts. I am supposed to edit the MT texts at 2 levels: brief editing (rate:$.03/word) and full editing (rate: $.06/word).

I have no experience in this field so I would like to know what you think. Is it worthwhile? Are the MT texts too poor to be edited? Are the rates offered standard rates for this kind of job?

Thank you in advance for your advice.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:35
English to German
+ ...
Be extremely careful... Feb 18, 2002

...is what I would advise. I have no experience whatsoever in the medical field, but I\'ve done quite a bit of work in finance (which, from a translator\'s point of view, is probably comparable in terms of technicality and complexity).



I gave up on machine translation pretty quickly, in view of the dismal results I was getting - it probably saved a maximum of 20% (if at all), and with some texts the workload was identical, if not higher. Even if you allow for technological progress (my hands-on experience with MT was more than five years ago...), I\'d be amazed if anything beyond 30-40% accuracy was achievable. Being on the conservative side, that means that you would have to be prepared to do the translation for $0.085 per word (0.06 divided by 70%).



I wouldn\'t even consider doing \"brief editing\" on MT...


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ttagir  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:35
Member (2002)
English to Russian
+ ...
Sometimes it is even harder than simple translation Feb 18, 2002

Hi!



I had proposals of that sort and found that sometimes it is even harder than translate directly... Some translation software manage texts in a very strangely curve way and kill complicated sentences.



One general remark. Suppose you are an agency which does not wish to pay full price for translation. You simply put your text into MT software, it takes several seconds, costs almost nothing in great volumes, and, here we are, you are suggesting already not 1 but 2 files and you are saying that it is \"almost ready\"...



If you are rather professonal in the field and possess MT software, you may do the same within as well same several seconds. So, in some cases, one can reply: \"Well, I can certainly do it (make the same file) myself.\"



Well, get one very precious gift from me Do you wish to know how one can do it ... for a b s o l u t e l y nothing?



My \"know-how\" is very simple: place the necessary file to your website, and then find it via Google. Aferwards, push the button of automatic Google translation... Boom! we are done!



So, some proposals for translation of \"already machine-translated texts\" represent a very simple and vulgar trick. Everybody with at least one convolution of his/her brain can do the same, I think.



Well, if to speak seriously, there is a certain additional thing which indeed enables you to explore this way for \"machine-translation\". I will not disclose it right now since I do not want to spoil relations with the absolutely proffesional Google team Of course, all this is my very personal opinion.



However, I hope you already see the right argument for the matter.



If you are ready to the normal translation for 0.06 per source word, you can say \"Yes\" and then do your normal translation and spit upon their automatic files (if cannot (I mean afford their price), redirect this outsourcer to me -- I am very proficient in Medicine!).



Would you have other questions, feel free to ask directly: ttagirov@ksu.ru.



Have a nice work!



Yours,

Tagir.



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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Revising poor translations Feb 18, 2002

Not too long ago I received a technical text for \'revisión\'. Applying the \'control de cambios\' as I always do (to show the client how much was actually revised - I receive a lot of Spanglish that soem people consider to be English but which I consider little better than maudling! And I\'d rather run the risk of being underpaid than let it pass).



After 3 pages of laborious work I calculated the time taken and extrapolated to the entire text. I informed my client that the revision would take more time than re-translation. This was when I discovered that the text had been machine-translated. That said, it wasn\'t actually that bad (compared with other MT texts, it was fairly comprehensible, I suppose because it was straight-forward \'informational\' language)but the syntax was a bit off, some strange out-of-context lexis was used and all the technical words were left untranslated.



I was a bit puzzled as to why revising would take longer than translating and figured out that it was - first of all - to do with working your brain three-ways so to speak. You are reading bad English/Spanish syntax, which you back-translate to teh Spanish language to figure out the thought processes in Spanish, then you have to produce correct English. Even if you have the Spanish original, you are manipulating one extra version, and would probably do as well to simply ignore the poor translation. The second element causing extra work is the deleting/swopping words around in the MT text.



It\'s obviously easier and apparently faster to translate directly and write directly. It still surprised me considerably, though, the amount of work involved in revising/editing even a moderately OK text compared to translating.


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CLS Lexi-tech
Local time: 09:35
Member (2004)
English to Italian
+ ...
I know nothing about post-machine translation editing Feb 19, 2002

Dear Laura,

I tend to agree with our colleague that perhaps it is not worth it, just on the basis of the machine translations I have seen.

Could you not suggest to the client that he could have the whole text translated much better than machine translation and perhaps with less waste of time, if s/he gave it to you from the word go?

ciao

paola


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 15:35
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Feb 19, 2002

Thank you very much for your precious comments. I have decided to decline their offer.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-02-19 10:37 ]


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Ingar A. Milnes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:35
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Article on the Subject Feb 19, 2002

Under www.globalwords.de/gwo/ibsite/15/show/95

you will find an article I wrote on the subject. If you can\'t read German, run it through \"Babelfish\" on Altavista.com, then try to edit it. Hey presto - there you\'ve got my opinion!!!


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TTilch  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:35
English to German
+ ...
Payment on a per-word basis is not feasible Feb 9, 2015

Hi,

We've also made some experience in this area (mainly in the localization/technical field).

It turned out that MT post-editing was not profitable for us as many segments actually required more work than if translating from scratch. In addition to that, we were not really satisfied with the results either, as the reviewers tried to retain suggested terminology/translations where possible to stay within the budget restraints; this resulted in translations that were grammatically correct, but often lacking in style or optimal wording/terminology.

If you want to make this a profitable business and deliver acceptable editing results, you need to charge for this kind of editing by actual time spent, not on a per word basis as often suggested.

Best regards,

Tanja


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Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 15:35
Partial member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
'any advice?' Feb 9, 2015

Sure: don't.

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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:35
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
seconded Feb 9, 2015

Michal Fabian wrote:

Sure: don't.


Not only is it unprofitable if paid per word, it also constitutes linguistic torture. Guaranteed to stir up suicidal tendencies.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:35
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Read this blog post by Steve Vitek Feb 9, 2015

Post-Processing of Machine Translations, the New Money Maker of “the Translation Industry” https://patenttranslator.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/post-processing-of-machine-translations-the-new-money-maker-of-the-translation-industry/

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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:35
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Takes you double the time.... Feb 9, 2015

... as translating it from scratch (as already mentioned by my colleagues).

I simply refuse MT jobs. Proof jobs of MT text, I charge them by the hour.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 15:35
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Intriguing to se that this thread was started 13 years ago... Feb 9, 2015

... and how valid it still is!

Thanks for reviving it - Lia Fail's analysis is good ammunition, and in fact it was not until I noticed she was the author that I realised how old the first posts are.

I have tried MT.
It is a completley different mindset, and it is definitely important to feed an error-free text in before translating.

An OCR scan with errors and mistakes, e.g. due to the three extra letters in the Danish alphabet, a, ø, å is asking for trouble. Other languages will also have pitfalls, I expect.

It takes longer to guess what the source should have been after translation than to correct it beforehand!

MT is better for gisting than it used to be, but it is not accurate, and most medical texts need to be correctly translated.
Some do have repetitive passages - the standard physical examination of temperature, BP, stethoscopy, blood levels of this and that...
But a CAT will do those for you.

If you can reconcile yourself to it as a different process, it may or may not be a complete waste of time, depending on a lot of things. My advice would be to look at a small sample and see where you go from there.

Don't forget to negotiate realistic rates for it, either.


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Inge Luus  Identity Verified
South Africa
Local time: 15:35
Member (2008)
German to English
+ ...
Same rates now as in 2002? Feb 10, 2015

As Christine rightly points out, this thread is 13 years old! Am I correct in saying that the rates the original poster was offered are the same as those offered today for MT? I don't do MT for the reasons mentioned by others previously, so have no first-hand knowledge of MT rates, but I seem to think that USD 0.03 / USD 0.06 are not far off 2015 rates. I would love to hear input from those in the know.

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Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:35
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
Same rates Feb 10, 2015

That goes for all translation rates. Everything gets more expensive, but.....! Did we have such great rates then, or are we being underpaid now? That is another topic, but it makes me wonder.

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