A Six Question Primer on Machine Translation

April 19, 2012 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Q&A, Machine Translation Services

Are you in the position of preparing huge volumes of content for new language markets on a tight schedule? Stressed global content manager, meet Machine Translation (MT).

Q: What is Machine Translation?

A: Machine Translation (MT) is a computer-generated attempt to pair content in one language with existing translations in another. While MT lacks the nuanced comprehensive powers of the human brain, it can use sophisticated software to chew through large amounts of content in translation.

Q: Is MT the right solution for my project?

A: Here are seven quick questions concerning your content that will help you assess if MT may be right for your project: 


If you’re in the blue with most of your responses, keep on reading. MT may be a good translation solution.

Q: How do I stand to benefit from using MT?

A: Does your boss like to save time and money? While a human translator may successfully translate up to 2,000 to 3,000 words per day with a high accuracy rate, a machine-translation process with human post-editing can more than double productivity while achieving near quality.

Q: Sounds great. Why haven’t we submitted to our robot overlords yet?

A: With speed comes some compromise. Machine translation can introduce inaccurate meanings, redundancies, awkward sentence structures and, at times, unintentionally funny mistakes.

Some mistakes are not so funny — especially in mission-critical healthcare and consumer safety scenarios — when a mistranslated sentence could mean life or death.

Q: How do I balance benefits of machine translation against the pitfalls?

A: A human/machine compromise (or hybrid solution) is the answer. Machine translation with “pre- and post-editing” is a methodology in which a linguist “trains” or programs the machine translation engine to correctly translate context-specific terminology, phrases with double meanings and case-based client exceptions to rules where the MT platform may have otherwise made a mistake (pre-editing). Following this, a human linguist reviews the output and smooths out the result according to the level of quality needed (post-editing). 

Q: How do I prepare MT-friendly content?

A: MT works best on short, simple, grammatically-accurate sentences. Removing synonyms and flowery language will make the translation process smoother. Over the long term, train your technical writers to keep their sentences short and direct.

May we take you to our leader? For a more robust discussion about machine translation, be sure to check out our full newsletter article “Using Machine Translation to Your Advantage.” No matter what your goals are, we maintain a robust localization process to help define the best process for your needs.

Subscribe to this blog

RSS feed

About this blog

Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


software cost tips technology & localization industry language entertainment southeast asia arabic website marketing mobile acclaro languages of the world acclaro localization and translation services acclaro world language map world language map arts sports & culture europe eastern europe africa french international business north america latin america middle east swedish asia german chinese documents case study localization retail quality transcreation spanish south america italian english ecard networking portuguese romance languages japanese staffing technology machine translation cost savings acclaro games language apps elearning localization multimedia translation multimedia localization elearning translation training translation ecommerce localization bitcoin cryptocurrency global ecommerce bitcoin regulation bitcoin exchanges china chinese translation chinese localization beijing localization cantonese and mandarin translations translation for business in china business translation in chinese top retail markets in the world new retail openings retail markets acclaro black friday cyber monday cyber week cyber monday woche single’s day bachelor’s day holiday shopping online borderfree doorbuster sales global holiday ecommerce healthcare initiative spanish healthcare cuidadodesalud.gov mt case study mobile apps mobile app translation app store optimization aso mobile app thai translation ecommerce in asia valentine’s day valentines in japan valentines in south korea chinese valentine’s day singles day translation project fitbit visualiq gibson mardi gras food localization globalization consulting localization staffing localization recruiting startups global scalability international ecommerce international payment international order fulfillment global online shopping acclaro april fool’s stories usaapril fool’s stories germany april fool’s stories ecommerce ecommerce design wine translation marketing translation english remains the dominant language in the united states but almost one in five americans speaks a language other than english at home. are you missing out on customers who are more comfortable doing business in languages other than english? read on to learn how your company can profit from translation within the united states. translation myths translation mistakes international translation misconceptions translation errors translation process translating startups marketing translations translation marketing international social media qa quality assurance quality translations global apps app localization app translation app store translation global startups international app launch press release translation international press release global pr global press release press release localization kontax translate news international marketing video localization video translation video translation agency brazil brazilian portuguese english-to-portuguese translation boston translation services boston web translation boston translation agency global branding international branding global brand evaluation lithuanian translation lithuanian language translation adapt to lithuanian translators translation ecommerce in india business travel business travel apps international banking financial services translation marketing transcreation international copywriting website translation website localization japanese translation english-to-japanese translation japanese translation services translation solutions web localization mobile app localization iphone 6 glocal global brands translation services translation agency translation partner global content marketing localization world business case for translation