NZTC's Machine Translation+

Machine Translation

To achieve a good, clear translation, you not only need to capture the meaning of the source text, but also capture the style of writing, the tone and other nuances of communication intended by the original author. A translator and editor must also consider the intended target market and therefore make potential stylistic and tonal adjustments while taking care of the basics such as grammar, sentence structure and other linguistic requirements.

Only a few years ago, using a machine to do the above was unheard of. However, technology has come a long way very quickly, and the translation industry is becoming increasingly aware of how the careful use of a machine-assisted translation process enables translation providers to offer a different and lower-cost service to their clients – subject to certain conditions.

Machine translation (MT) is an automated translation process where translation software is used to produce a translation of a source language into another language. Based on a combination of linguistic guidelines, existing terminology, multi-lingual dictionaries and millions of previously translated “chunks” stored within the software “engine”, the MT process can be secure, fast and, in the right circumstances, far less costly solution compared to using a human translation and editing process.

Machine Translation

It is important to distinguish between a professional machine-assisted translation process and using Google Translate. Any content that passes through Google is technically online. This means that confidentiality of the client’s source content can be compromised. Furthermore, utilising a public, online-based translation machine means that the translations are being surmised from unchecked and unverified translations from countless diverse sources. This is not to say using Google Translate is completely useless; I often find myself typing in phrases on how to communicate with a colleague in a different language – for example, ordering an after-work beer in Latvian!

In comparison, NZTC uses a dedicated machine translation engine that is privately hosted so that we can ensure client confidentiality, and also provides the ability to customise and “train” the engine for our customers’ specialist terminology.

Obviously, even using the best machine to do an intelligent and complex piece of work, despite the advances described above, has its limits. No amount of “artificial intelligence” can accurately decipher every nuance and style of communication intended by an author.

Machine Translation

However, a combination of MT and post-editing by a professional editor, fluent in both the target and source languages, can significantly improve the resulting translation to a point where it can be used to effectively impart the intended message as written by the original author. At NZTC we call this solution “MT+”.

The MT+ service offered by NZTC has thus far been very successful. We have partnered with various clients and have been able to significantly reduce the cost of projects, particularly where there is a very large volume of words to translate and therefore the cost of traditional translation was beyond the client’s project budget. Likewise, if the translation is large and needed in a very short timeframe (such as responding to a tender deadline), the MT+ service can provide much quicker completion times than were previously available.

The “check-list” to determine whether a project potentially qualifies for the MT+ service is, however, an important one to consider – first and foremost, our advice is that generally, the content for translation is meant for our client’s internal information only and not for publication purposes. There are also limitations to the type of content; we have found that marketing, sales and other similar types of creative copy are generally unsuitable for this service. Some language combinations perform better than others, due to compatible language structures and also the volume of quality language data available within the translation software for the given languages, with mainstream languages typically producing better results (but not always).

Machine Translation

For these reasons, when considering if MT+ is a valid approach to an assignment, our team determines whether the quality of an initial sample of MT produced is of a standard where the additional post-editing service would outweigh the cost and efficiency of a regular, professional human translation and editing process, from a client’s point of view.

Our team is thrilled to be able to offer the NZTC MT+ service to all of our customers. Please contact our team for a further discussion on the suitability of a project your team may have in the pipeline. You can contact the team on or call us on

0800 366 4000.

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