Welcome to the Machine: Preparing Your Content for MT

August 6, 2014 by Acclaro
Category: Software Translation, Technology, Localization Tips
machine translation

Has your translation agency recommended that you leverage MT, or machine translation, to render your content in other languages? For certain types of projects involving at least 7-digit word counts and internal-facing content, MT is a sound approach that will save you time and money in the long run.

But with speed comes compromise. Machine translation can introduce inaccurate meanings, redundancies and awkward sentence structures into your translated content.

The solution to these pitfalls is human pre- and post-editing services. Prior to translation, a linguist trains the machine-translation engine to correctly translate your terminology. In post-editing, editors review the translations to improve accuracy and bring the output to the level of quality required by your users.

Naturally, the introduction of this human element into the equation can eat into the efficiencies of using MT. In order too reduce the time required by linguists, there are some best practices you can implement to make your content more “machine-friendly.” The following content recommendations will help you to maximize the benefits of this translation model:

  1. Be consistent with your terminology, even if it sounds repetitive. Avoid synonyms.
  2. Avoid flowery language, puns, or other forms of “winking humor” which the machine won’t understand.
  3. Use the active voice. Avoid the passive voice.
  4. Look for ways to eliminate parenthetical asides and complex clauses offset by commas or dashes.
  5. Train your technical writers to keep sentences short and direct, with verbs and their subjects close together.
  6. Consolidate phrases into single words where possible. (E.g. “due to the fact that” into “because”)
  7. Beware of general English pronouns that may cause gender noun/verb agreement problems in translation.
  8. Eliminate slang and jargon, and specify when a technical name or term should remain untranslated (or mapped to a specific term in translation memory).

Is it too late for you to clean up your content before an imminent translation project? Not to worry. Get your team of writers together and on board now so that all future content conforms to these rules. Your company stands to reap big benefits as you increasingly invest in global markets.

Looking for more resources on machine translation? Check out the following articles:

Ready to get started? Learn more about our machine translation editing services or contact us today for a complimentary machine translation quote.

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


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