Proofreading MT on 'level 4'
Thread poster: Iris Shalev

Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
Apr 26, 2010

Hi... I would just like to share one of the highlights of my working day with you!

I just got an offer from someone to proofread a large file... done by machine translation. When I answered that I preferred not to do this kind of work, because it usually means completely re-translating the text and getting paid a much lower rate, he told me that there was no question of that in this case. Because (and he said this as if delivering a wonderful surprise): the translation didn't have to be perfect! Apparently, this company offers several levels of translations, and this translation was on 'level 4' (whatever that means), so it did not have to be perfect! In fact, a certain amount of mistakes should remain!

What a wonderful opportunity!! But I still declined it, to which he replied that it was a pity I was turning down such a good opportunity without even having a look at the file.

The idea that I should be grateful for being 'allowed' to fix a MT, and then not having to deliver a 'perfect translation' - even deliberately leaving in a certain number of mistakes!

Is this what people mean when they say that at some point in the future, this is what our job will be reduced to? I love translating, but if it really gets to that, I'm going to consider a career change.

Thanks for letting me vent! icon_smile.gif

Iris.


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Femke Hubers-Meulepas
Local time: 16:24
French to Dutch
+ ...
Same story Apr 26, 2010

I know what job you mean Iris, this actually is a really big project multiple agencies and freelancers are working on. I also know this has to do with creating a new and more 'specialized' type of machine translation. This implies inserting a ton of new 'untranslated' sentences into the machine, for it to 'learn' the structures and phrases of that language and specific domain. That's why you can't translate the phrases perfectly, because a personal writing style would make it difficult for the machine to make consistent translations on its own.
I felt the same before finally accepting the job, but I agree that, besides delivering work that is below your standard quality, feels like "killing" your own business.
I stick to my belief that we're ages from being able to cope without the 'real' people and translators that in the end, will always have to 'polish' any given machine translation. Still not as fun a job as translating from scratch, is it...?


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
thanks Apr 26, 2010

Femke Meulepas wrote:

I know what job you mean Iris, this actually is a really big project multiple agencies and freelancers are working on. I also know this has to do with creating a new and more 'specialized' type of machine translation. This implies inserting a ton of new 'untranslated' sentences into the machine, for it to 'learn' the structures and phrases of that language and specific domain. That's why you can't translate the phrases perfectly, because a personal writing style would make it difficult for the machine to make consistent translations on its own.
I felt the same before finally accepting the job, but I agree that, besides delivering work that is below your standard quality, feels like "killing" your own business.
I stick to my belief that we're ages from being able to cope without the 'real' people and translators that in the end, will always have to 'polish' any given machine translation. Still not as fun a job as translating from scratch, is it...?



Ah... It seems I misunderstood the purpose of the job. Thanks Femke, for telling me about that. I'm afraid I sort of cut off the person who offered me this job mid-explanation, because I was starting to get very annoyed. (he didn't want to take no for an answer)icon_smile.gif But creating a new sort of machine translation is still something that I don't want to be a part of.icon_smile.gif Not that I can stop it, of course!
Having to turn work down is not something I like to do, even if the project isn't particularly fun... but in this case, I think I'm still glad I didn't accept it...


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Perhaps we have a multi-level future Apr 26, 2010

It is true that a 'level 4' translation is sufficient for some jobs.

There are many companies required to translate long documents for statutory or political reasons and know that nobody important will ever read them. Why should they spend good money paying professional translators to do a quality job when a quickly corrected MT will suffice?

Perhaps we should think more deeply about the idea of different levels of translation quality. This may be a way of educating clients that while six cents a word can buy a translation, it may not necessarily buy the quality level they need for a given text.

In our everyday lives we are happy to pay high prices for some branded goods, and buy others in the local Chinese bargain shop. Why should translation services be any different?


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
levels Apr 26, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:

Perhaps we should think more deeply about the idea of different levels of translation quality. This may be a way of educating clients that while six cents a word can buy a translation, it may not necessarily buy the quality level they need for a given text.



Hmmm... maybe. But I don't think I can deliberately deliver low quality, even if the job pays little...


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Jan Neersoe  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:24
Member (2004)
English to German
Playing devil's advocate Apr 26, 2010

I believe both that MT is inevitable AND that it will never replace human translators. While, as crafts(wo)men, we dislike creating products that fall below our highest standards, this isn't how business works. Clients aren't always looking for top quality, but that level of quality that will get the job done sufficiently well. This applies to the coffee in their break room as well as language services. We may complain about this, but that's the way it is, and it won't change -- it's one of the basic truths of business.

There are certain, specialized applications where clients produce ridiculous amounts of text that no company could ever afford to have translated by humans. Yet, the client may want to offer at least a basic level of access to non-English speaking customers. In those cases, there may be a strong business case for MT. As MT systems continue to improve, and authors move to more structured types of writing using controlled vocabularies etc., MT with some human rework to eliminate the wackiest mistranslations may in some cases prove to be "good enough". The goal isn't to create translations that are as good as those done by a translator -- hence a certain level of errors is acceptable. (And this actually protects the market for good and excellent human translation -- MT is not a substitute, but a clear alternative for a market segment that doesn't require a higher level of quality.)


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Jan Neersoe  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:24
Member (2004)
English to German
Exactly! Apr 26, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:
Perhaps we should think more deeply about the idea of different levels of translation quality. This may be a way of educating clients that while six cents a word can buy a translation, it may not necessarily buy the quality level they need for a given text.

In our everyday lives we are happy to pay high prices for some branded goods, and buy others in the local Chinese bargain shop. Why should translation services be any different?

I didn't see your post before I posted mine, but I view it exactly the same way.


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
maybe Apr 26, 2010

Jan Neersoe wrote:

The goal isn't to create translations that are as good as those done by a translator -- hence a certain level of errors is acceptable. (And this actually protects the market for good and excellent human translation -- MT is not a substitute, but a clear alternative for a market segment that doesn't require a higher level of quality.)


I hadn't thought about it this way. You both have a point. But this kind of work still doesn't appeal to me at. I wonder how many translators would do this? Would you?


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Jan Neersoe  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:24
Member (2004)
English to German
Yes -- if the price is right. Apr 26, 2010

Iris Shalev wrote:
I wonder how many translators would do this? Would you?

If the price is right, and the client understands that the quality won't match that of a human translation, then yes, I'd do it (on the basis that many people regularly do much stupider things to earn a living).


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Jan Neersoe  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:24
Member (2004)
English to German
Two caveats though Apr 26, 2010

1) I'd definitely want to look at the text beforehand to verify that MT can indeed handle that type of text sufficiently well, and
2) I'd want to establish clear quality criteria that determine what "good enough" means in each case, which may be the hardest part.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
Gun for hire Apr 26, 2010

Iris Shalev wrote:

I wonder how many translators would do this? Would you?


I am a gun for hire. Yes, I would do this type of job if it was clearly defined. A low word rate would be compensated by the fact that I should be able to handle thousands of words per hour.

However, I have not yet been asked to do this type of job - and I do not intend to go looking for this type of client.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:24
Flemish to English
+ ...
Level 4 price Apr 26, 2010

When our job will consist of polishing "level 4 MT", why don't we ask a level 4 rate, meaning an hourly rate i.e. a rate of a normal professional (lawyer, doctor, dentist)etc...

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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
Proofreading MT on 'level 4' Apr 26, 2010

I would be sorely tempted to revise it with another MT
on the other hand, if the translation can still contain mistakes ...
;-D

Claudio


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Iris Shalev  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes! Apr 27, 2010

Claudio Porcellana wrote:

I would be sorely tempted to revise it with another MT
on the other hand, if the translation can still contain mistakes ...
;-D

Claudio


icon_biggrin.gif


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Stanislav Pokorny  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:24
English to Czech
+ ...
MT Apr 29, 2010

Claudio Porcellana wrote:

I would be sorely tempted to revise it with another MT
on the other hand, if the translation can still contain mistakes ...
;-D

Claudio


You're reading my mind, Claudio!icon_wink.gif


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