Post-editing: To reduce costs not quality!

Published on 17/07/2023

It is undeniable that the economic crisis is making companies want to save as much money as possible. Sometimes, however, resorting to cheaper alternatives results in a poorer quality result. Fortunately, this does not have to be the case in the field of translation.

Índice de contenidos

Index of contents

Index du contenu


  1. Machine Translation
  2. What is post-editing?
  3. Tasks carried out by the post-editor
  4. Advantages of post-editing

Machine Translation

When a project is entrusted to a translation company, it can be prepared in several ways. One of them is to translate the text in question manually. However, as technology has evolved, another way of translating texts has taken over. We are referring to machine translation.

In this case it is a machine or computer programme that carries out the translation. You don't need to have extensive knowledge to do this. In fact, you can perform a similar process yourself using an online service such as that known as Google Translate.

But what can be said about such translations? You simply have to look at the text generated by machine translation tools to realise that the result leaves a lot to be desired in several aspects. This is when the possibility of post-editing comes into play.

What is post-editing?

Basically, this term refers to the work that a translation agency performs after a text has been machine translated. The objective is clear: to improve the quality obtained by using this alternative.

If an machine translated text is delivered directly to the client who requested the project in question, their level of satisfaction will be far from desirable. The opposite happens if a post-editing process is carried out.

Tasks carried out by the post-editor

Put yourself in the situation: an SME commissions a translation from a specialised agency. Their budget is not very big, so the translation agency offers them the possibility of using machine translation and then post-editing. What does the post-editor do exactly?

They carry out numerous tasks. One of them, surprising as it may seem, is to apply corrections to the source text. The objective is clear: to avoid problems related to ambiguities and even false meanings, which are quite common when a machine translation is done.

However, despite this preliminary step that some post-editors take, it is very difficult to avoid the errors that are so typical of machine translations. No matter whether you translate from English into Spanish or deal with other languages such as German, Portuguese or Italian: in any case, problems often arise. Syntax, contradictions, misspellings and lack of natural language are some of the issues that the professional in question has to deal with.

It should be taken into account that, however much this technology has advanced over the past half a century, it still has some shortcomings, such as dealing separately with each term or phrase. In other words, machine translations do not fully identify the message that the content seeks to convey.

An industry professional does, so this message is reflected in the corrections they apply after the machine translation.

Advantages of post-editing

It is not surprising that machine translation and post-editing together are such a popular alternative nowadays, as they provide several important advantages, starting with time savings. As the translator needs fewer hours to carry out the tasks entrusted to them, the price of the services becomes more affordable.

However, in order to obtain these advantages, it is essential that the prior machine translation is of good quality. Otherwise, the translation agency will be forced to rewrite the text, which means goodbye to cost reduction.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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