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"Post-editing" of Machine Translations
Thread poster: Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:52
German to English
Oct 18, 2007

Hi there!

From a recent job listing on ProZ:

"We are looking for translators with experience in the provision of services in the area of translation technology, particularly in the post-editing of machine translation output, able to provide a guaranteed number of post-edited pages of suitable quality within tight deadlines."

I've heard of this before, but it's the first time I've seen such a listing. Just wondering: What are people's thoughts in general on this practice? It would be nice to hear from people who have done it before.

Personally, I don't like the idea. Anyone else?


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:52
Swedish to English
+ ...
Surprising posting Oct 18, 2007

I'm surprised Proz accepts that kind of of posting.

At the top of the home page is a line which reads "ProZ.com - Directory of professional translation services....'s

What's professional about humans trying to make sense of garbled machine generated sentences?

The other day, I was researching/googling poker terminology and came across a multitude of machine translated sites. I had my colleagues in stiches when I back-translated these sites.

There is no way I could have "proofed" or "post edited" them. Re-translation is the only option, however "cost efficient" some agencies want to be.





[Edited at 2007-10-18 21:50]


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Robert Forstag  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:52
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bad idea Oct 18, 2007

My own experiences with this have not been good, and I think that I've taken longer to do this kind of work than I would have had I started from scratch. Even in the most sophisticated application of this idea that I've worked with, in which an organization had assimiliated a couple of years of translation memory into its system, there were still numerous mistakes (including many, many howlers) that had to be corrected.

Given that the whole point of using machine translation is to save the utilizing company money and the contracted translators time, it seems to woefully fail in its purpose.



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Luciana E. Lovatto  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:52
English to Spanish
Not a nice experience.... Oct 18, 2007

Hi Jonathan! I had to work on a project like this. Luckily I was paid by hour, not by word, because it took me a lot of time. Otherwise, I would have charged the client as if it were a normal translation.... I think it’s much easier to do the translation from the scratch rather than editing something senseless.

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Maurizio Spagnuolo  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 04:52
English to Italian
CAT is better Oct 18, 2007

Hello Jonathan,

I've tried postediting and agree with Luciana and Robert.

You're supposed to be faster but you find yourself editing nonsense.

A sound TM and a validated glossary are much better in terms of speed and quality.

Maurizio


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 19:52
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
You forgot the kicker... Oct 19, 2007

"we have a low budget" - meaning that you certainly won't get paid enough for the hassle. Avoid at all costs.

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:52
English to French
+ ...
A no-no for me Oct 19, 2007

First of all, I couldn't have said it better than Madeleine. For a website that has the word professional all over it, this job posting sure looks like it's lost and didn't end up in the right spot...

What I don't understand is that this posting is asking for two really hilarious things:
1. Someone who has experience in editing machine translation (what kind of bozo would want to become an expert at giving him/herself a headache?)
2. Someone who can guarantee the output (how the hell can you guarantee something that was not done by you?)

I would be curious to find out what country the "outsourcer" runs its business out of. If you tell, I won't bash them - I swear!

One of the main reasons why I love visiting this website is that it keeps satisfying my appetite for reading about hilarious people who take themselves seriously...


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 21:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Hilarious or not... Oct 19, 2007

Hi, Victoria,

Looking at the quality of many publications on the Internet there must be nothing hilarious about such oursourcers' bank accounts, and they could not care less about our intellectual and professional whining. What could be hilarious to them is OUR bank accounts.

One thing is true and more sad than hilarious - they are welcome on Proz. Too bad...

Regards,
Irene


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EllyLiu
China
Local time: 11:52
English to Chinese
Years ago Oct 19, 2007

I had a bad experience for editing machine translation output, for a web site. Seems that things are not going to the better, I think. One thing that I'm curious is: is there any colleague (in any language pairs) who had the experience near enjoyable, or nearly acceptable?

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:52
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Personally, I support the idea, but... Oct 19, 2007

Jonathan Smith wrote:
From a recent job listing on ProZ:
"We are looking for translators with experience in the provision of services in the area of translation technology, particularly in the post-editing of machine translation output...


Well, post-editing good machine translation and post-editing poor human translation amounts to about the same thing. And I have no problem with it if clients follow a procedure in which they use bad translation with good post-editing. They must just realise that the post-editing is likely to take longer and be more expensive.

...able to provide a guaranteed number of post-edited pages of suitable quality within tight deadlines."


In my opinion, you can't ask this from a translator. If you want a certain number of pages guaranteed, then you should be looking at a workflow system with built-in quality checks at various stages performed by a number of people.

In other words, guaranteeing quality is something that a translation company might do... not freelancers. Besides, a guarantee implies some way of measuring it. How would you accurately measure the efforts of a diverse group of freelancers? The only way to measure quality accurately is within a single, controlled workflow.

Just wondering: What are people's thoughts in general on this practice? It would be nice to hear from people who have done it before.


I've seen stuff translated worse by fresh translators with college degrees. If the machine can do it better, then that just makes the post-editor's job easier, right?


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 04:52
English to Dutch
+ ...
Seen the stuff Oct 19, 2007

I recently received a sample of a text that had to be edited because the quality of the translation was deemed 'poor'.

It was obviously a machine translation. Thankfully the source text was sent with the translation, so after a while, I ignored the translation and just retranslated the source text. I then sent the client an email to tell him what I'd done and why, how much time it had cost me and an estimation of costs of a real translation.
Haven't heard from them since....

Typical signs that you're dealing with a machine translation:
- words that are incorrectly combined (example: high quality products - translates into: quality products in a high position)
- composite words where the components are translated as separate words and then put together again (imagine the translation of a word like fishing rod - a rod that is fishing?)
- more complicated sentences loose their structure, as each part gets translated separately.

At least your client has the honesty to admit it's a machine translation.

But I won't do it anymore, I'll just retranslate. It takes less time and is much more pleasant to do. I did have a good laugh while reading the 'original' translation, but that's about the best that can be said about it.

Good luck!
Margreet


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Ken Cox  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:52
German to English
+ ...
agree with Samuel's comments... Oct 19, 2007

... which hit several nails on the head quite nicely.

The concept is not bad in principle, but it is difficult to implement and can turn into a nightmare if not done with the right discipline and expertise.

In this case, there is a real risk that the offer originates from someone who doesn't know all that much about translation and is mainly interested in making money by exploiting translators and translation clients.


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Martin Wenzel
Germany
Local time: 04:52
English to German
+ ...
I once caught my colleague Oct 19, 2007

who is a brilliant translator, banging lots of texts into the XXXXX translation mask. I was completely surprised and asked him why he was doing it. He said that he was tired of typing and found it easier to correct some gibberish than having to think it out himself.

My former boss, head of a London translation agency, tried to develop a translation program. This was in 1987, we all thought he was wasting his money and time...

BUT NEVER FORGET translation programs are getting better all the time. I could imagine that one day (perhaps sooner than we imagined), all we have ever asked at proz and faithfully answered may be commercially exploited and sold for millions of galactic drachmas to serve as a huge translation memory...

We can then all go with Henry to some tropical beach and have machines and translation agencies do the work for us...I DO HOPE Henry will honour our input!


Martin

PS. I wonder if the moderator will give his/her blessing on this, or if my input will be censored?


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:52
German to English
+ ...
final text should be cohesive, readable and reliable Oct 19, 2007

Jonathan Smith wrote:

"We are looking for translators with experience in the provision of services in the area of translation technology, particularly in the post-editing of machine translation output, able to provide a guaranteed number of post-edited pages of suitable quality within tight deadlines."
...


Assuming we're talking about the same job posting, you forgot the truly hilarious part:


Post-editors are required to provide a faithful rendering of the original message. Any distortions of meaning introduced by the machine should be removed and the sequence of tenses corrected.... the post-edited text should be cohesive, readable and above all reliable


In other words, re-translate it? If reliability (i.e. accuracy) is the priority, why go with MT in the first place? They talk about 100 pages per month over 4 years and refer to their "low quote to the EU", which makes it all the more alarming.


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Jorge Aguilar Juarez  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 14:52
German to Spanish
Poker Oct 19, 2007

Well, I muss admit that for the hard-gamers a bad translation doesn't mean anything. If I read "tu ganar" I don't f****** about the error.

For me, Poker on-line games are not "professional".

just relax and play the game....
bises


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