• Marija Kostović

Why I decided to take the dare

In this blog I'll tell you about my experience with machine translation post-editing of content translated from English into Croatian

Are machines taking over the translation space?

It came as quite a big surprise to everyone around me (including myself) when I decided to accept my first assignment to post-edit machine translation. I have always been a leading opponent of machine translation post-editing (MTPE) because, well, I thought it was plain humbug. By looking at the translations produced by commonly accessible machines (such as Google Translate), it seemed as if it would be simpler to translate a text from scratch than to waste time trying to make something out of their nonsense. But then I received something along these lines:

Dear Translator,

You know that technology evolves. Machine Translation technology underwent humongous improvements over the last couple of years. We need to follow the trends. We need to remain competitive. We need tech-savvy translators willing to accept the challenge, blah blah…

Wait, what? Tech-savvy? That’s me. You know that you have challenged me with your proprietary translation tools quite a lot in the past, and I have always delivered. I will not go into how I sometimes felt as if I had to go back in time to 1980’s, reach for my scrunchie and tie it on, put on some dance music while staring at the blue screen of your proprietary translation tool, typing away and hoping that it will take less than 15 minutes for me to move onto a new segment this time…

Aight, I’ll take that dare.

As far as the rate is concerned, we are willing to pay 75% of your current rate.

So you know that I’ve never been good at math, so I had to think about this one for a while. When I was done thinking, I asked my husband to clarify because my thinking got me nowhere. This is how the conversation went:

- You have to multiply by 0.75. If your rate was €10 per word, they would now pay €7.5.

- Does that mean that they expect my efficiency to be 25% higher?

- I don’t know.

- Or do they expect 75% of quality?

- I really don’t…

- Or is it just a way for them to get professional translation for 25% less?

- I don’t know. I’m the numbers guy here.

As it happens, I’m flexible when it comes to rates because my native language is Croatian and I am aware that I cannot charge the same rate for translation as my colleagues in Norway or Iceland. It’s like that. And that’s the way it is. (Huh!)

Another thing with translating into Croatian rather than some world language is that a significantly lower volume is being translated into it on an annual basis. So if you are populating your machines with already translated content, I assume that you will have a much stronger input base for content translated from English into German than for that into Croatian. I learned German in school and having limited working proficiency, I can tell that Google Translate oftentimes nails it when translating some common phrases from English into German. But when you ask it to translate these phrases into Croatian, it WILL GET LOST.

Obviously, I am not an expert on machine translation and I don’t know what sorts of improvements are being introduced to make these machines better than Google Translate or any other freely accessible tool. So when I decided to take on an MTPE assignment, I just really wanted to see whether I can complete it 25% faster than normal translation. Otherwise, as a translator, I wouldn’t see the point in MTPE.

So let’s see where it takes me. My first MTPE assignment coming up.

#machinetranslationpostediting #MTPE

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This blog was prepared by Mirara's employees in ther personal capacities. The opinions expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Mirara d.o.o.