Category Archives: Translation

ELIA ND Vienna in review

by Vasso Pouli, CEO at Commit

This was a short trip – Wednesday afternoon flight to Vienna and Friday evening flight back!

Short but intense, with five theme tracks and many interesting speakers!

Amongst our personal favorites were the business success stories and the soft skills tracks. Also, for the first time, we saw dedicated IT and Interpreting tracks which we think are a great addition to the ELIA ND arsenal!

Day 1 in the business success stories track was all about self-awareness!

The kick start was stimulating with the Kaleidoscope team, Annita and Klaus, and Bob Donaldson presenting the EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) model and how it is being implemented in the Viennese LSC. Well, therapists have been discussing the importance of self-awareness and acceptance (of self and others) for years, but ‘therapy’ seems to be more easily implemented at a business level (smirk). What Annita, Klaus and Bob taught us is that Visionaries need to accept their creative but chaotic self and look for consistency and accountability through execution in their Integrator counterpart. Well, it is a lengthy process but Annita and Klaus seem to have found their match, thanks to Bob!

As if that was not therapeutic enough for the first day, Industry Expert Roberto Ganzerli shared the 50+ mistakes he did in LSC management from day one of founding his company to the day of signing its sale. The most important lessons learnt: take a good look at the mirror, acknowledge what you can and cannot do, ask for help and delegate to people that can do it better than you. That sounds like a true leader, don’t you think?

In the IT department, Konstantin Dranch talked about the “Connector Game” and how LSCs can take advantage of some IT tweaks, connecting TMS with client CMS and gain a competitive advantage.

Which brings us to Day 2.

Luiza Szafrańska from Argos Multilingual introduced us the eight Melbin team roles and shared some rather interesting insights on the impact each can have in team allocation. While Luiza was presenting the characteristics of each, it was fascinating how we, attendees, were profiling not only ourselves but also our colleagues and peers. And only a few hours later, we all had a déjà vu moment at Paul McManus session on competence-based management and the DiSC® approach.

The presentation by Andrew Hickson, Ludejo’s Marketing Manager, was a riveting story from Ireland to the Netherlands, from childhood to adulthood, from pub owner to marketing manager in a loc agency, and from loc employee to leader!

Last but not least, keeping in line with Day 1 therapy, the session hosted by Gabriela Lemoine and Jesper Sandberg can certainly be categorized under an “LSC Anonymous” track. Both hosts – and many attendees – shared their personal/family stories regarding their businesses but “what’s shared in Vienna, stays in Vienna”!

And it all comes together once again to testify to and validate that we are a people industry!

We definitely look forward to meeting our shrinks friends and colleagues next year somewhere in the Netherlands!

Our first time at SATT!

by Giannis Nistas, Linguist at Commit

The 6th edition of the School of Advanced Technologies for Translators (SATT) took place on September 14-15 in Milan, Italy, on the premises of the International University of Languages and Media (IULM). It was attended by 120 participants, with 20% of them coming from abroad. Also, more than 50% of the participants work in the language industry.

Organized by the Bruno Kessler Foundation, this year’s school revolved around Machine Translation (MT) and other advanced technologies for translators, with lectures and labs spanning across two days, and speakers coming from the realms of research, academia, and the language industry itself. The first day was dedicated to lectures, whereas on the second day we received hands-on training in the university labs.

The keynote lectures were given by Sharon O’Brien and Renato Beninatto. The former, coming from the academia, tried to include MT and the skills associated with it into different translation competence models, and set some food-for-thought questions about how to fit MT in the training of translators and how to future-proof their careers. The latter, an industry veteran with extraordinary communication skills, provided us with an overview of the translation technology landscape with particular reference to developments in MT. His lecture was enhanced by personal experiences as well as tips for translators he shared with us.

Researchers Marco Turchi and Luisa Bentivogli introduced us to MT and MT quality evaluation respectively. Turchi gave us a detailed presentation of how Phrase-Based Machine Translation (PBMT) and Neural Machine Translation (NMT) systems work and drew comparisons on the performance of the two approaches. Bentivogli discussed about the importance of MT quality evaluation in deciding whether to use MT or not, and which system to select. She also described the various evaluation methods along with their pros and cons.

Industry people Tony O’Dowd, Laura Rossi and Konstantin Savenkov talked about KantanMT, a use case of MT in patents, and MT evaluation from an industry perspective respectively. All three lectures provided useful insights around MT.

The lecture day came to an end with a panel discussion among Renato Beninatto (moderator), Diego Cresceri, Tony O’Dowd, Laura Rossi, Paloma Valenciano (panelists). All active industry professionals shared their points of view about what skills translators should possess in our highly technologized industry.

During the labs we had the opportunity to attend hands-on courses on SDL Trados Studio 2019, MateCat, Smartcat, BootCat and MultiTerm, as well as focus on MT post-editing requirements and practical tips. I attended a lab on post-editing with Smartcat (led by Diego Cresceri), and another one on the use of such terminology tools as BootCat and MultiTerm (led by Claudia Lecci).

Overall, I enjoyed both days of the SATT 2018, was impressed by the passion of all my colleagues for our job, was excited to meet interesting people from our industry, and got to know as much of the wonderful city of Milan as I could on foot!

Congratulations to all those involved in the school’s organization!

I am looking forward to attending the SATT 2019 edition!

Are You a Hard Worker or a Smart Worker?

Working hard

by Katerina Pippou, Linguist at Commit

The translation industry can be innovative and exciting but like many other industries that work around demanding deadlines and heavy workloads, it can result in stressful situations and long working hours. As scientific research on occupational health and safety suggests, working non-stop increases stress levels, causes mental fatigue and physical pain, and even increases the risk of occupational injury or illness. Some lifestyle studies have shown that shorter vacation is associated with worse general health in midlife and higher mortality rates in old age, and that more vacation results in greater productivity and success at work, lower stress and more happiness at work and home. Of course, we don’t need science to prove the impact of working long hours and not taking time off from work on our health and everyday life; it’s something many of us experience, either directly or indirectly, every single day.

The good news is that we live in 2018! We have technology on our side: advanced technology that is constantly changing the way we communicate and work, offering us amazing new possibilities virtually every day. The other important thing is that we see a great mindset shift towards more flexible ways of working: more and more businesses (like Commit) are embracing flexible working, offering their employees the freedom to choose a working arrangement that suits best their lifestyle. So, who is to blame about overtime work or lack of vacation?

Ask yourself the following questions and let your own answers guide your way through a smarter way of working that will allow you to be more productive while working less (and that is whether you work in the translation industry or not!):

  • Is your way of working still working? We are creatures of habit, which means that we develop habits and routines that stay with us for a lifetime. As things change a little too fast in the translation industry, maybe we need to rethink how we work.
  • Are you putting up with stuff and waiting for the perfect moment to solve it or change it? If there’s a problematic situation that holds your work back and doesn’t allow you to perform at your best, probably there is no better time to act on it than now.
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by your inbox? Don’t worry, there are several things you can do to avoid an inbox that’s out of control, like dealing with emails as soon as they arrive or at set times only, clearing your inbox and filing your messages every day, sending less messages and more.
  • Does multitasking help you get things done faster or does it drive half-and-half results? Brain science indicates that we are more effective when handling one task at a time. Scientists may know better than translators.
  • Is this ‘always on’ thing a good thing? The chances are that being connected 24/7 won’t drive inspired action, nor boost your productivity. Just like any electronic device, our brain cannot function properly when it’s switched on all day long. We need to disconnect, shut down, take some time to rest and cool down, and then restart.
  • Are you aware of what is urgent or important or both? As most of the time we have to deal with too many unspecified urgent requests, our sense of urgency becomes so overloaded, to the extend that we cannot recognize the important stuff. Maybe it’s time to reassess urgency.
  • Are there any projects that you feel you cannot accomplish on your own? If you feel you are not good enough at something or that you don’t have enough time for something, don’t panic! You can always ask your colleagues for help, assign tasks to the right people in your team, and deal with projects that you feel more confident with.
  • Do you have enough resources available as the workload is increasing? Do you have the right resources at all times? Is there a backup team for your backup team? If not, you may often find yourself busy being busy.

How translation affects our information and entertainment

by Eleftheria Tigka, Vendor Manager at Commit

When I started learning English, I enjoyed reading UK teenage magazines immensely, considering them to be the cornerstone of information regarding the ways of the world. I even imagined translating and selling them to the Greek public.

Little did I know that translation was a global business, affecting billions of people. According to Common Sense Advisory, more than seven billion people live in nearly 200 countries and speak about 7,000 languages, making the language sector a 43 billion dollar business.

Impressive as it is, translation affects the way we are informed and entertained, one way or another.

Most pieces of information go through translation every day to be broadcasted by international Media, playing an indispensable role in exchanges between different cultures, and translation becomes a vehicle for intercultural dialogues. Accurate news, original information, points of view, comments, opinions and articles on politics, economy, society, and sports, are all translated so that the world can be better informed. It all goes back to the age when the messenger arrived to bring the news of what had happened in the next kingdom. Nowadays, the media play a crucial role in communicating to the public what happens in the world, going hand in hand with translation. People tend to think that all international exchanges are carried out in English, but this is not the case. Globalization has made more explicit the complexities of any communication, and the ability to observe, analyze and judge is required.

Furthermore, movies, TV series and video games require translation to reach their intended recipients. Our world is better, more colorful and interesting through all these means of entertainment. Imagine if you had no access to your favorite videogame or the latest blockbuster due to lack of translation. With 155 million gamers in the United States alone, the need for translation is on the rise.

After all, since much of our perception of the world depends on the entertainment we are exposed to, the importance of translation in entertainment is becoming obvious.

Last but not least, translation of literary works (novels, plays, short stories, poems, etc.) is of great importance. Be it the plays of Aeschylus, the poetry of Homer or the oeuvres of JeanJacques Rousseau, and, in recent times the fiction of J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien, they have all become integral parts of our world, shaping the way we think, the way we act and react, who we are and who we aspire to become.

Therefore, the next time you lose yourself in a novel or you play your favorite videogame with your little son, the next time you read the newspaper online or you catch the news on TV, please bear in mind that all this could be the product of translation, and that none of it would be available to you, to any of us, if translation had not played its part.

Translation is expensive; why don’t we use Google Translate instead?

by Tasos Tzounis, Project Manager at Commit

We all had texts that needed translation at some point in our lives.

In those cases, certain questions have arisen:

  • How much will it cost?
  • Will it be good but also affordable?
  • Will I have it on time, at a low price and in excellent quality?

While searching for the best solution, there are various alternatives to choose from, in an effort to settle on either the most affordable one or the one meeting our needs. But do we have all the necessary information to end up with an informed decision?

Those who are familiar with the Internet and its capabilities know Google Translate. Google Translate is a Google service that provides a translation of words or sentences from and to almost all languages. You just type or paste your text in the appropriate field and then choose the source and target languages. It has become such a large part of our lives that we have all heard the following phrases in some wording or another: “I’ll look it up on Google Translate”; “why don’t you use Google Translate?”; “translating a simple text is very expensive, so I’ll do it myself, and with Google Translate I will pull it off”; “why do translators ask for so much money since there is Google Translate?”. If we explore the subject more closely, there is a large percentage of buyers believing that translators either use Google Translate or mistake Google Translate for translation memories. And the question remains: why pay for translators when there is Google Translate? Can it take the place of a professional translator?

In recent years, due to the reduction in cost and delivery time, considerable progress has been made in the training of translation engines, growing the demand for automatic translation. But can this become a reality? In fact, the translation quality of Google Translate has improved quite a lot, particularly in language combinations that are widely-spoken, such as French or English, and remarkably when the target language is English. But what happens with not so widely spoken languages or languages ​​with complex grammar and syntax? Greek, for example, uses cases, specific rules and demonstrates peculiarities that at this moment a computer cannot work out on its own. Also, in many languages one word has more than one meaning or changes its meaning depending on the syntax; and this is where the famous Google Translate falls short compared to a professional translator.

Many now realize that Google Translate is not the solution and that the automatic translation it provides cannot replace the human factor. Nevertheless, the issue of cost and time remains, and many claim that translation should be performed with Google Translate and then get edited by a translator. However, this solution also seems ineffective. Most of the times, for the reasons mentioned above, the translator ends up translating from scratch and, of course, being remunerated for translation and not editing services. The cost then is the same for the client and significant time has been needlessly spent with pointless experiments.

But what happens when the text to be translated is technical and contains legal, economic, or medical terminology? Can Google Translate detect the corresponding terms and render them properly in the target language in order to create a meaningful text that has cohesion and coherence? Can it inspire the same trust as a translator? In these texts, the terminology is specific and often provided by the client. In other cases, the translator has compiled a terminology library from previous projects. Google Translate doesn’t have the ability to integrate this terminology. Besides, most of the times it fails to render these terms correctly or understand if a word refers to a Product Name or a Trademark that doesn’t need to be translated. Therefore, with texts that require particular attention and baffle even an experienced translator, the use of Google Translate is lurking dangers. Medical reports or case studies do not leave room for mistakes. The use of Google Translate for cost reduction might not be prudent as the consequences of an error exceed the cost of a translation by a professional. In every transaction, there is trust that is built over time. So, when we have a technical text, we have to do research, assess translators and choose the right person for the job. Especially in cases where more than one text needs to be translated, and we have to reach out to a translator many times, we need to choose the most suitable one that will meet our needs; something that is impossible with Google Translate as we cannot trust it blindly.

Another drawback of this “all-in-one translation engine” is that it cannot follow any instructions provided. Technical texts are usually accompanied by several directives, such as the translation or not of measurement units, chemical compounds etc. In these cases, a specialized translator outweighs Google Translate for the following reason: the translator can also perform research while Google Translate memorizes terms and places them in the text without understanding their meaning or the outcome created by this “mishmash”.

However, the main issue of using Google Translate is confidentiality. Working with a translator, the customer ensures the privacy of their personal data through contracts. This is not the case with Google Translate since Google keeps the data collected in the event you choose to download, send or store the content of your file and has the right to use and reproduce your text. This is also clear in Google’s terms of service:

“When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Lastly, the use of Google Translate does not only affect the translation outcome in terms of quality, but it also raises copyright issues as it can be modified and republished.

Having explored the negative points of Google Translate, in my opinion it has one very positive aspect. It can be used as a dictionary to search for individual words as it provides a variety of interpretations. When searching for the translation of a term, it offers more than one rendering. Also, the translations of individual terms are correct, and surprisingly it seems to be more comprehensive than other online dictionaries. However, it cannot be used as a CAT TOOL or a translation memory, but it works perfectly as a multilingual online dictionary.

In conclusion, automatic translation is indeed free, but it has not yet succeeded in replacing the value and quality of a human translation. We will just have to wait and see what the future holds!

In-country Review: a must, a pain or both?

by Clio Schils, Chief Development Officer at Commit

When we look at the history of the process of translation and localization, primarily at the quality assurance step, we have come a very long way in the past 3 decades. I vividly remember a story from a good friend and now retired localization manager from a medical company. He mentioned to me that when he started running the translations for that company, the team literally had to “cut – with scissors – and paste” pieces of text for reuse into new updated versions of manuals. The content was then finalized with new to be translated text. The new text was translated and “more or less” reviewed back then as well, but one can imagine the challenges and risks of such a process.

The concept of Quality Assurance since then has been further developed, refined and optimized by industry stakeholders on client and vendor side, and the process of refinement is still ongoing: translation software programs have emerged and are still emerging, QA standards are being implemented, numerous commercial QA tools are being marketed and sold to those who understand that high quality is key. Still, in addition to all the tools and standards, there is one historical component in the process that is still there and offers the essential added value to any QA process, the human reviewer.

We all know that the essence of good translated output is a well-written source, the known “garbage in, garbage out” theory. However, for the sake of argument, let’s assume we have a translation that was based on a perfect source. We now move to the next step in the process, the review. Leaving aside the question “why we need a review in the first place, when we have a “perfect” translation, since it was based on a perfect source?” we go straight to the review step itself.

There are many criteria that co-define the type or depth of a review. As a rule of thumb, one could say that the higher the risk impact of a wrong translation, the more in-depth review is required. A mal-functioning vacuum-cleaner will not have the same impact as a wrong interpretation due to a bad translation of a patient’s medical-technical manual. In the latter case, a mistake in instructions could potentially have fatal consequences. Therefore, the in-country review is a must.

As per the example above, the in-country subject matter expert review is mandatory for highly regulated content “to the extent possible”. This step is conducted after the linguistic review by a subject matter expert. The emphasis lies on the technical aspects, functioning, use and terminology of the product rather than the linguistic elements.

Unfortunately, the in-country review step is not without challenges:

  1. The ideal subject matter reviewer is the in-country expert on client side. In most cases, these experts have other responsibilities and reviewing product content comes on top of their core responsibilities. It is a challenging act to balance.
  2. More and more “exotic” languages are required. Clients and buyers of translation services do not always have experts readily available in these countries.
  3. The limited availability of expert reviewers poses challenges on the overall TAT of a translation project and could endanger market release date of a client’s product.
  4. High turn-over among in-country reviewers of some companies, lead to longer lead times and potentially less reuse efficiencies due to differences of opinion regarding translations.

There are ways to ease the pain to some extent, some of which are:

  1. facilitate the process by providing specific proofreading guidelines and by providing validated “do-not-touch” technical glossaries. This will also be useful in cases of an instable reviewer pool.
  2. come up with other ways to execute this important step, i.e. use of specialized third party in-country review companies, use of the best specialized linguists who are being offered product training to master the features and function of the product.
  3. allow for reasonable time to execute a specific subject matter review task and document these pre-agreed lead times in a binding SLA, for example “up to 10k words, review time 3 working days”. When the generous deadline is not met, the project manager has the go-ahead to continue the process without any repercussions.

Finally, to summarize the answer to the question “In-country Review: a must, a pain or both?”. My answer is “both”, but the job needs to be done. Even today, and despite the challenges, an in-country review by a highly qualified subject matter expert offers a substantial contribution to the process. It will not only reflect on the overall quality of content but also on the company’s branding and reputation. Translated product documentation remains a very powerful marketing tool. It allows for deeper local market penetration thus bringing the product within reach of local end-users.

Plunet Summit 2018 – In review!

by Eftychia Tsilikidou, Project Coordinator at Commit

Plunet Summit 2018 took place on May 24th and 25th in an unexpectedly sunny Berlin with comfortable temperature creating a very pleasant atmosphere for this vibrant and live event!

The program was structured with presentations on Plunet features and Plunet users’ best practices, workshops, panel discussions, round tables and networking.

Plunet released its new version 7.3 giving its main focus on GDPR but they didn’t stop there. They showcased many new features that improve performance and boost automation and integration with major CAT tools.

The best practices track included two very interesting presentations by Dan Milczarski and Eugenia Echave. Dan presented the way Plunet Automation helped manage changes at CQ Fluency eliminating the naturally-present resistance when it comes to change. Following the ADKAR (Awareness – Desire – Knowledge – Ability – Reinforcement) methodology, the focus was to make all teams understand the need for a change, to appeal not only to the logic but, most importantly, to emotion, to make everyone aware of their roles, to provide knowledge AND skills to perform certain roles and to ensure change is maintained.

With great honesty and transparency Eugenia explained all the dilemmas and reasoning that lead their company to choose the merger path with a competitor and illustrated how a complete and organized system helped evaluate all the details and make the right decision at the right time.

The workshops track focused on certain Plunet functions and hidden “gems” through interesting games and exercises. Even for advanced users, the workshops proved to be very useful revealing unknown settings that could help save time and make a big difference in everyday management tasks.

The Summit closed with an interesting panel discussion about managing the extensive growth where representatives from different companies shared their experience and knowledge gained from the growth their companies achieved in the last years. It is very interesting to see that although we are all engaged in the same field and practically do the same thing, we all choose a very different approach and implement different ways to achieve our goals.

This is what makes translation a very interesting and motivating industry with many young and passionate people who are really committed to what they do!

A very big thank you to the entire Plunet team for the great event, the knowledge, care and hospitality!

Our experience at the ATD 2018

by Yuko Baba, Project Manager at Commit

The outside of the San Diego Convention Center was flooded with thousands of people from all over the world on Monday morning; and yes, we were one of them. Who could blame us for our excitement and anticipation! Even the regular attendees of ATD were surprised about whom ATD invited this year for the opening keynote – the 44th President of the United States, President Barak Obama. This 75th year anniversary of ATD had become a very special one for us.

As President Barak Obama walked onto the stage, the crowd cheered and gave him a standing ovation.  We were sharing the same room with the former president, and it was a big deal!! The attendees could not get enough of him as he gave the opening keynote. He spoke about learning, resilience, and value as he shared his upbringing, family and experience in the White House. One of the things he shared was to hold on to values that are tested and proven by our previous generations – values that do not change: values like “be honest”, “be hardworking”, “be kind”, “carry the weight”, “be responsible”, “be respectful”, and “be useful”. He shared that such values reflect our day-to-day interactions and the kinds of habits we form which transcend any issues or situations and they, as a consequence, become our baseline and foundation. “Those are things that will get you through hard times as well as good times”, he said. Those values will “sustain effort and ultimately give purpose to what we do” which will make us go above and beyond superficial benefits like getting paid. It is easy to put those values away and seek short term results, but with those values, we become successful in life. To say that he is a great speaker would be an understatement. It was a very in-depth, insightful and inspiring speech. To be honest, we wish he would speak longer!

This year’s ATD welcomed over 13,000 talent development professionals from all over the world as they offered more than 300 sessions with 202 exhibitors. Needless to say, all of the sessions offered were about talent development and its related fields; however, it was good information to be aware of, as we provide translation services to the talent development industry. Especially, with regards to the changes in the industry trends with the upcoming technologies of virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence – how the industry’s e-learning programs and the materials will be impacted – our industry will also have to make necessary adjustments to grow alongside our clients.  It was indeed a good learning opportunity to explore how we can use those new technologies to our advantage to improve our services. Also, through sessions like “Overcoming the Headache of Video Editing and Content Reviews” by Daniel Witterborn from TechSmith and “What’s Wrong with This Course – Quality Testing and Editing Strategies for Designers and Developers” by Hadiya Nuriddin from Focus Learning Solutions,  we had an opportunity to discover the challenges and difficulties the clients face developing an eLearning program. Also, it was interesting to know that most eLearning program developers and designers do not have a formal Quality Assurance in place.  This is something we can also consider when taking on an eLearning project to provide recommendations and offer solutions to our client. Over all, all of the sessions were very interesting and will be applied to our business practice.

Commit had a booth set up along with the talent development training companies, software companies, universities and fellow translation companies giving away lots of cool swag!  We had a good networking time with the people who came by our booth, who sat next to us during the sessions and lunch tables. We are grateful for those who came to visit us at our booth. We hope you had a wonderful and meaningful conference like we did!  We hope to see you next year in ATD 2019 in Washington DC!

Elia’s ND for Executives Catania – In review

This year, Elia’s Networking Days for Executives was held at The Romano Palace Luxury Hotel in picturesque Catania, Sicily. Commit was represented by our Chief Strategist Spyros Konidaris and our CEO Vasso Pouli.

The event featured two tracks, one on the Translation industry and company strategies and one on Financial strategies, and we attended both.

The first track was dedicated to the overall company strategy for LSPs and what the future has in store for the industry. During the first day, the two moderators, experienced and savy professionals, Kimon Fountoukidis from Argos and Dominique Hourant from TransPerfect laid down the main issues faced by today’s LSPs, including, but not limited to, organic growth and M&As, differentiating USPs, growth pathways, competition challenges, and many more. The second day was devoted to the attendees; several of them took the podium and opened up to share their personal experiences in many of the topics discussed the previous day. The track really took off with this exercise as sharing is really at the heart of this event and what provided the best value for all. After two full days, we left with many things to think about and apply to our company strategy.

The event also included a panel discussion with Iris Orriss from Facebook, Richard Brooks from K International, and Geert Vanderhaeghe from Lexitech. The discussion was representative of our industry as it included the opinions from both the buyer and the supplier side, especially with Geert being relatively new in the industry. Amazing takeaways here as well as the conclusion was that no matter what the size of the LSP, value is there to be added in providing services to the client.

The second track, Financial Strategies: The Golden Quest, was delivered – very successfully indeed – by Gráinne Maycock, VP of Sales at Sajan, and Robert Ganzerli, seasoned industry expert and former owner of Arancho Doc. Though rich in presentation content, the track very soon took the form of an open discussion and honest sharing of best practices, where P&L, EBIT(DA), accountability, monitoring, KPIs, budget, operating (whatever) and taxes suddenly seemed appealing and interesting. Corporate and financial strategy was at the heart of the track and reminding us that there is no size that fits all. So, it was indeed both a relief and a challenge to realize that we must make our own and make it our own! Ooh, and Minions were a very nice and fitting touch – those who were there know.

We spent 2 full days sharing knowledge, hearing different opinions and networking – we wonder what’s in store for the next edition of ELIA’s Networking Days for Executives next year!

What to keep in mind when assigning your first post-editing task

by Dimitra Kalantzi , Linguist at Commit

Maybe your business or translation agency is toying with the idea of experimenting with Machine Translation (MT) and post-editing. Or maybe, after careful thought and planning, you’ve developed your own in-house MT system or built a custom engine with the help of an MT provider and are now ready to assign your first post-editing tasks. However simple or daunting that endeavor might seem, here are some things you should bear in mind:

  1. Make sure the translators/post-editors you involve are already specialized in the particular field, familiar with your business or your end-client’s business and its texts, and willing to work on post-editing tasks. Involving people with no specialization in the specific field and no familiarity with your/your client’s texts, language style and terminology is bound to adversely affect your post-editing efforts. Ideally, the post-editors you rely on will be the same people you already work with, trust and appreciate for their good work.
  1. Forget any assumptions you might have about the suitability of texts for MT post-editing. For example, IT and consumer electronics are often among the verticals for which custom MT engines are built, and it’s usually taken for granted that software texts are suitable for post-editing purposes. However, this might not hold true for all your software texts or even for none at all, and should be judged on a case-by-case basis. For instance, some software texts contain many user interface (UI) strings that consist of a limited number of words (in some cases only 1 word) and are notoriously difficult to translate even for professional translators, especially when the target language is morphologically richer than the source language and there’s no context as is often the case, leading to a multitude of queries. It would seem that such texts are hardly suitable for post-editing or should, at the very least, be not prioritized for post-editing purposes.
  1. Define your MT and post-editing strategy. If your overall goal is to get the gist of your texts and you’re not concerned with style and grammar, then light post-editing might be right for you (but you’ll always need to clearly specify what constitutes an error to be post-edited and what falls outside the scope of post-editing, which might be tricky). If, on the other hand, you’re after high-quality translation and/or the output of your MT system is (still) poor, then full post-editing might be best for you. Also bear in mind that post-editing the MT output is not your only choice. In fact, instead of giving translators/post-editors the machine translated text, you can provide the source text as usual in the CAT tool of your choice and set the MT system to show a suggestion each time the translator opens a new segment for translation.
  1. Offer fair prices for post-editing. As a matter of fact, the issue of fair compensation and how post-editors should be remunerated for their work is still hotly debated. Some argue for a per-hour rate, others for a per-word rate. Some believe that post-editing always involves a reduced rate, for others it means a normal, or even increased translation rate. It all depends on the type of post-editing used (light vs full, normal post-editing vs translation suggestions), the quality of the MT output and its post-editability, the suitability of a particular text for post-editing, the language pair involved, etc. And, of course, translators/post-editors should be paid extra for providing further services, such as giving detailed feedback for a post-editing task.
  1. Last but not least, if you’re a translation agency, you should always have the approval of your end-client before using MT and post-editing to translate their texts. It also goes without saying that if you’ve signed an agreement with a client which forbids the use of any kind of MT or if the use of MT is expressly forbidden in the purchase order accompanying a job you receive from a client, you should comply with the terms and conditions you’ve accepted and should not make use of MT.

Post-editing MT output is by no means a straightforward endeavor and this post has barely touched the tip of the iceberg. Let go of our assumptions, find out as much as you can, involve everyone in the new workflow and ask for their honest feedback, be ready to experiment and change your plans accordingly, and let the adventure begin!