Translating and the Computer 40, London, UK

Machine Translation Markers in Post-Edited Machine Translation Output

The author has conducted an experiment for two consecutive years with postgraduate university students in which half do an unaided human translation (HT) and the other half post-edit machine translation output (PEMT). Comparison of the texts produced shows – rather unsurprisingly – that post-editors faced with an acceptable solution tend not to edit it, even when often more than 60% of translators tackling the same text prefer an array of other different solutions. As a consequence, certain turns of phrase, expressions and choices of words occur with greater frequency in PEMT than in HT, making it theoretically possible to design tests to tell them apart. To verify this, the author successfully carried out one such test on a small group of professional translators. This implies that PEMT may lack the variety and inventiveness of HT, and consequently may not actually reach the same standard. It is evident that the additional post-editing effort required to eliminate what are effectively MT markers is likely to nullify a great deal, if not all, of the time and cost-saving advantages of PEMT. However, the author argues that failure to eradicate these markers may eventually lead to lexical impoverishment of the target language.

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Translating and the Computer 40

Michael Farrell is primarily a freelance translator and transcreator. Over the years he has acquired experience in the cultural tourism field and in transcreating advertising copy and press releases, chiefly for the promotion of technology products. Besides this, he is also an untenured lecturer in post-editing, machine translation and computer tools for translators at the International University of Languages and Media (IULM), Milan, Italy, the developer of the terminology search tool IntelliWebSearch, a qualified member of the Italian Association of Translators and Interpreters (AITI) and a member of Mediterranean Editors and Translators.

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