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Are human translations always better than Machine Translations?

While generally raw machine translation is not as good as human translation, there are a number of cases where machine translation can actually be better than human translators.

In the LexisNexis Univentio case study, 13 million patents were translated from Japanese to English. Machine translated patents resulted in a 20% increase in meaningful search results when compared to human translations of patents. Machines translation delivered a significant and meaningful amount of added value.

Had the LexisNexis Univentio project been translated by human translators it would have taken 152,257 person years of effort and cost in excess of US$ 40 billion. This project would have never been attempted due to time and cost requirements beyond thousands of times beyond the business value that such a task would deliver. With Language Studio this task was successfully completed in a fraction of this time and cost. LexisNexis Univentio has subsequently repeated the process for many other languages.

Omnilingua Worldwide, a Language Service Provider (LSP) that used Language Studio to translate automotive content for a USA car manufacturer, received a call from the end client after delivering asking what had changed. The client noted that the quality of the final delivered product was notably better than historical translations. Previously translation had originally been performed for this client with a human only approach and later with a competitor’s legacy machine translation engine. Terminology and writing style was more consistent than in the past with a combined Language Studio custom machine translation engine plus human post-editing approach.

With human translators, when more than one translator is involved, there will always be a variation based on the individual preferences of each translator. With Language Studio terminology and writing style was normalized within the custom translation engine as part of the Clean Data SMT model advocated by Omniscien Technologies. This ensured consistency and reduced the amount of human editing required.

The above examples are just two of many where machine translation either with or without a human post-editing the content has delivered results that would exceed that of a human only approach. The important thing to determine is what quality level is required and what can be achieved with machine only or machine plus human. Some content is better suited for this purpose that others. The appropriate level of human involvement can then be determined in order to deliver the required quality level.

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