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4 min read


3 Types of Machine Translation and How to Use Them

If you are a content manager and own a business, you know how much time writing takes. One of your writers may produce content for your blog every week, for example, a content-rich article of about 1,000 words. It soon adds up to 10,000 words of valuable content that you need to transfer from one language to another in order to reach other readers.

How fast can you expect the work to be done in order to obtain Spanish translations, French translations, or German translations of those 10,000 words?

Well, it can take days or weeks to get it done, depending on whether you use freelancers or a professional translation agency. And this is where modern technology steps in.

If you need to produce large volumes of content in several languages within a limited time span and on a tight budget, machine translation (MT) is the way to go. With this technology, you will save on two essential aspects: time and money. However, its use must be well planned and used in a responsible and strategic way.

Why use machine translation?

If you need to meet strict deadlines and need your work translated quickly, human translation services might take up more time than expected. Rushing human translators is bound to produce mistakes. Balancing cost, time and quality, and building scalable translation strategies is something that few companies have achieved in international publication.

When it comes to machine translation, recent technological advances have brought near-human quality solutions that can sometimes even be indistinguishable from human translation. Neural machine translation (NMT) replicates the human thought process through neural networks and deep learning algorithms. These engines are even able to take context and style into account.

In addition, regarding rare language pairs for which it is very difficult to find a translator (imagine translating Japanese into Turkish, as some of our clients requested recently), machine translation can be the only option when speed is essential.


Learn more: 

Where are we at with Neural Machine Translation? 


The benefits of custom machine translation

Machine translation is a tool that can be used to speed up translators’ output so they produce more content in less time. Popular online translation tools have made this possible for over a decade now. However, in real-life scenarios, many clients require special formats, very particular expressions and terminology adherence that general engines cannot offer.

There is much to be gained by using machine translation, but the main benefits always come from building specific and custom engines using the client’s previously translated material and terminology. Gone are the days in which only large corporations could afford to buy machine translation engines.

Another advantage of building and using a custom engine is the ability to choose where and when to use it. Data privacy has been a growing concern in recent years due to the massive increase in technological development and data use and collection. A custom machine translation engine can be used in a company's own infrastructure or a private cloud, thus complying with data protection regulations and ensuring their privacy.


3 ways of using machine translation

Machine translation can be used in many ways and leveraged for all types of content. At Pangeanic, we identify 3 typical uses:

1. Gisting

In order to simply understand what something says, with short-time value and low user expectations. General machine translation engines can be used for understanding the meaning of a foreign document or for internal communication in international companies, for example.

Everyone has used free online translation systems. The users’ approach to them is that it should be fast, free and cover as many language areas as possible. While using free online tools is all very well for basic language needs, care should be taken when it comes to uploading or merely typing any sensitive information online. Data is constantly being collected in situations we do not even realize. For this reason, even for gisting purposes, it may be a good idea to use a general machine translation engine in a secure and private environment.

2. Publication

For serious content that is expected to remain available for a considerable amount of time, and with high user expectations. Humans are in control of the input with which the engines are trained and these perform according to their specific needs and domains. In this case, custom machine translation engines are created after human users have decided that it is viable to use MT and are used for a specific purpose.

The raw output can be used immediately or in a hybrid process where the text is post-edited by a professional translator. A well-built translation engine will contain specific terminology that will save invaluable time for post-editors, even if they do need to improve the sentence to make it flow and adapt it to the new audience. Post-edited material, constantly evolving techniques in natural language processing (NLP), and human-in-the-loop development have had a massive impact on publishing. 

Typically, translation professionals and companies will pay for this service, as it will lead to higher outputs by professional translators who save time typing, reading and understanding the text, as well as sometimes looking up terminology.

Custom MT can be used with an API to translate web content on the fly. For example, making calls from a content management system to a custom-built engine that can provide fast translation of product descriptions, short reviews, etc.

3. Human interaction

When humans do not speak each other’s language and voice recognition software converts speech to text, which is then machine translated, and converted into speech again. Sophisticated speech-to-text (STT) and text-to-speech (TTS) software is now available to combine with the best of machine translation and create solutions to meet specific needs.

This technology is based on natural language processing and machine learning algorithms, and can be used on many different digital devices, such as smartphones or computers. 




Planning a machine translation strategy

Opening your business up to this type of access to machine translation can create new revenue streams when partnering with the right provider. However, planning your machine translation strategy and incorporating a machine translation workflow should be a well-thought-out process, whether you are a translation company or a translation buyer. 

Things to think about when embarking on this journey include:

  • What the machine translation is going to be used for.

  • What domain your content belongs to.

  • Whether you want to use pure machine translation or integrate post-editing into your process.

  • How you are going to use resources in a secure way and not endanger your customers' or your own privacy by sharing personal data.

Pangeanic has been offering custom-built private MT engines for years. We work with government agencies, companies and other language service providers, giving them a key competitive edge and allowing for large projects to be completed on time, in a fast and efficient way.


Learn more: 

Everything You Need to Know About Localization Strategy 


Machine translation: Advances, challenges and opportunities in multilingual communication

Machine translation has advanced considerably and has now become a widely used tool in multilingual communication. While it's important to note that the quality of machine translation can vary and there are limitations in terms of idioms, cultural nuances, and specific terminology, combining it with custom engines and the right human intervention can deliver accurate and efficient results.

The importance of machine translation lies in its ability to overcome language barriers and facilitate seamless communication between people who speak different languages. It is especially valuable in situations that require fast translations and/or large volumes of text. By using this technology strategically, companies and professionals can save time and resources on content translation, allowing them to expand internationally and reach new markets. However, it is essential to recognize the limitations of machine translation and find the right balance between automation and human intervention to ensure the accuracy and quality of translations.