Machine Translation: 5 questions to answer before using it

Machine Translation offers significant advantages in the localization of content. Over time, it has evolved to the point of being able to manage complex texts efficiently! Nevertheless, like any tool, it is ideal for some applications and less efficient for others.

How can you decide when to use Machine Translation? In a previous article we talked about its advantages and disadvantages. Today we’ll take a look at 5 questions that will help you quickly understand whether it’s a good idea to use Machine Translation for your next translation project!


1. Is the content creative or technical?

As we know, when the content to be translated is more technical or “literal”, Machine Translation is the ideal choice. This tool works very well with material like legal documents, instruction booklets or generic texts.

On the other hand, content that requires a certain creativity or absolute mastery of the nuances of a language is more suited to a human translator. If you have to localize a text whose goal is conversion, for example, you shouldn’t use Machine Translation.


2. Is the content easily comprehensible and editable?

The quality of Machine Translation output depends largely on the quality of the incoming material. This is a general concept that also applies to human translation, but is even more important when the task is performed by a machine.

Preparing and organizing the content to be translated requires time, and therefore has a cost. One of the things you need to evaluate is whether you can afford this preliminary operation. If you can’t, you shouldn’t choose Machine Translation!


3. Can you take advantage of the Translation Memory?

The Translation Memory helps those who localize content (whether a machine or a person) to work faster while maintaining a coherent and precise style. A Machine Translation tool can use this database to properly manage highly technical texts or those with specific terminology.


4. Is the target language suitable?

As previously mentioned, automated translation systems are continuing to evolve, mainly thanks to innovations like Neural Machine Translation.

This doesn’t mean that their performance is always the same. Some languages are bad candidates for Machine Translation: this happens when there are few resources available in those languages. Some examples are the dialects and languages spoken by small communities.


5. What is the objective of the text?

The first question that we considered regards the type of content. We saw that creative texts need a human touch to render them to their highest quality. The same goes for the objective of the text!

If we want to capture the readers’ attention, communicate an emotional message or push for an action we can use all of the nuances and colloquial expressions of a language. Machine Translation systems don’t have this type of sensitivity, so of course they don’t seem very “human”. The goal of the material that you have to translate will guide your choice for the best way to proceed.


The 5 questions that we have considered in this article will help you to understand whether Machine Translation is the right choice for localizing your next batch of content.

Do you need help with your next translation project? Contact us for a free estimate!

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