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Machine Translation vs. Machine Translation Post-Editing 101

Matthew Patel
Matthew Patel
Posted in Zoom Sep 7 · 7 Sep, 2022
Machine Translation vs. Machine Translation Post-Editing 101

The growth of most businesses is highly attributable to the advancement of today’s technology. The global demand for these businesses to cater to a more international audience has shown the importance of proper communication. And this is easily achieved with effective translation.

Learning the ropes of machine translation and machine translation post-editing services cannot be overemphasized. This evidence-based comparison of both can shed light on what fits your needs the most.

As technology continues to improve, your business could also cost-effectively provide more quality through content translation. Whether it is for a website, brochure, or professional communication, the best translation services are right within your reach.

Why translate your content?

Content translation is a basic platform for most businesses to gain a global presence. It is a means of effective communication that provides content creators, business owners, and entrepreneurs to reach out to a wider audience.

Through content translation, websites, digital chatbots, flyers, and online ads can reach a wider scope of audience to sell your business more. It is also an avenue to showcase your services to first-world countries.

Machine Translation Post-Editing

What is Machine Translation?

Machine translation is a technique of translating web pages, content, and a thought into another language through machines and other translation assistants. The power of technology has allowed businesses to have their name and vision translated across the globe in a click-through machine translation.

Thousands of companies have grown through machine translation. This kind of technology has also helped start-up companies in their conquest to have more international partners and investors.

Some companies are using machine translation, as they claim that it is more accurate and reliable. They also believe that it’s more accessible. 

Machine translation does not involve any human interaction or intervention in the process. It is mostly software that automatically translates one language to another in an instant. The most popular machine translators are Google Translate, DeepL Translator, PROMT, and Bing Translate.

How does Machine Translation differ from Human Translation?

The lack of human comprehension and intervention is what makes machine translation different from human translation. Aside from that, since machines are fed with data and it has their algorithm, it allows for lightning-fast translations.

Although machine translations have been quite popular in most businesses, some professionals still prefer having a professional human translator because of quality purposes and it allows for better context. 

Human translations also have more sincerity as it does not just translate words, but sentences and thoughts, as a whole.

You might also like: Best Real-Time Language Translator, Uses, and Benefits (& Human Translations) 2022

What are the pros and cons of Machine Translation?

The use of human or machine translations varies on one’s preferences. But of course, machine translations have various pros, making them appeal more to various users and clients.

Since machine translations have paved the way for comfort connectivity, it has gained a lot of positive feedback from its users. Among the pros of machine translation are:

Speed translations

Let’s face it, machines are better than humans in terms of speed. And machine translators are no exception to this aspect of technology. Machine translators deliver unparalleled speed in translation and they give the direct translation that you need.


The advent of progressive software has enabled machine translators to be very accessible to various users. Even if you are not a business owner, you must have used these machine translators at some point. 

This allows users from other parts of the world to look up to your untranslated content in no time. It also brings more audience, because the use of these machine translators has driven curiosity for both producers and consumers.


The fact that machine translation services deliver lightning-speed translations saves time like no other. When you have a lot of translation needs, machine translations may be fit for your business. It also provides more time for you to do the other aspects of your business as the translation needs are already taken care of.


As previously mentioned how machine translation is very much accessible now, it also does not cost much for the other professional features. 

Compared to hiring professional human translators, machines are very time and cost-effective. They don’t cost an arm and a limb, and they deliver the same thoughts as the professionally translated ones, depending on the type of content you need to translate.  This might only apply to literal translations.

Even though machine translations are now very compelling to use, they are not without some downsides. Here are the cons of using machine translators.

Uneven quality

Other languages don’t have direct English translations, and depending on the complexity of the content, some thoughts may not come out as intended. However, some words are left unchanged when it comes to their meaning, so they will remain as it is. This brings out uneven quality to some content.

May sometimes be Insincere

Because machines can come off with a more objective approach to translating, their outcome may come off as insincere. The translations will seem unnatural because the goal of most machine translators is just to translate the meaning of most words, not the entire concept of the content.

What is Machine Translation Plus Post Editing?

To compensate for the inadequacies of machines, the birth of machine translation post-editing services has grown. As it implies, it is a hybrid of both machine and human translation services.

machine translation post-editing is a two-step process that has the goal of coming up with a fine-tuned translation of texts and content. The machine takes charge of the initial translations, and once the bulk of the translation tasks is done, human translators come into play. 

Machine Translation Post-Editing

Humans refine the content for clarity and for the content to resonate at a local level.

Having things reviewed by a human (as the consumers are humans), this way of translating just makes sense for a better comprehension of the consumers. The human touch brings a more sincere feel, one of the things that machines cannot provide.

What are the pros and cons of machine translation post-editing?

Since machine translation post-editing services have gained a massive following after having great results, it goes to show that this technique has a lot to offer for various brands. Here are the pros of machine translation post-editing in the light of single users, start-ups, and huge businesses.

More Accurate

Machines are known to have fewer errors than humans. You may wonder how this technique is more accurate, but this is simply coming from the fact that machine translation post-editing has already been through the sharp translations of the machines, and comprehension of humans. It then provides a more accurate thought of what the content is about.

Continuous Flow

Since machine translation post-editing is a more refined way of translating things, the context of the translated language comes out in a more continuous flow. It also comes out to be clearer and has a more visualized intent, rather than a vague one from the machine alone.

Fluent in Local Terminologies

The English language is known to be universal, but as it is broad and commonly used, it can sometimes be difficult for unnatural English readers to comprehend things on their own. 

Localization is a technique of most brands these days, and machine translation post-editing has been a great help for users to grasp the slang and local terminologies of various content.


Because of its machine component, the machine translation post-editing style is a lot faster than manual human translation. It still cuts time, and also delivers great results.

No matter how great this technique is, the ways of machine translation post-editing have their downside. Here are the cons of having machine translation post-editing in your content.

Not Cost-Effective

The human component of machine translation plus post editing has been an additional cost for most brands. This means they have to compensate for the services of the human translator, who refined the translation of the machine.

In comparison to machine translation alone, this comes out to be a more expensive approach to having digital content translated.

Slower than Machines

The unparalleled speed of machines is still superior to the longer 2-step task of machine translation and post editing. This makes this technique a lot slower than direct machine translation.

Reliant on Machines

As a 2-step translation process, machine translation post-editing requires the use of machines. The overall outcome relies heavily on how the machine-translated the content first. With this, it can come different from what is expected from human translations, no matter how much post-editing is done.

What makes machine translation post-editing different from Human Translation?

Although the need for humans to refine the translated content is almost the same as translating it from scratch, machine translation post-editing allows for faster results compared to human translation alone.

Since most of the content came from machine translation, humans doing the post editing part have less effort to exert and will only look at what the machine has already translated. Human translation usually starts with the raw and original text and will translate the text thereon.

One study showed that the amount of effort varies for post-editors. In a way, they would sometimes need the source text, making their tasks almost similar to those of professional human translators. The amount of text that they edit, and their speed in editing may also differ and can range from almost the same to completely different from that of human translators.

Is machine translation post-editing better than Machine Translation Alone?

The use of machine translation and machine translation plus post editing has a lot of implications in the way businesses communicate, market, and approach their clients and investors. Both of these techniques have shown how they can improve their global presence through various platforms.

machine translation post-editing has its advantages and disadvantages, but that does not make it better than machine translation alone in all aspects. Each technique has its weaknesses, and it is important to recognize how each will be used to fully promote your business.

On personal use, machine translation may seem better, but can also be just as good as machine translation post-editing in other aspects. Thus, the use of either of the two can be of equal value. It all depends on preference, budget, and the context of how translation can greatly benefit your company.

Is machine translation post-editing great for foreign language students?

The thought of hiring foreign language students for machine translation post-editing is not brand new, as a study that showed Chinese and Spanish translations on foreign language students has helped them grow.

Foreign language students were then able to be more accurate, detect tone and formality, as well as spot errors from machine translations. As a result, the study suggests that it helped these students in assessing the errors of the machine and has been a great tool for them to have a more critical view of language translation.

Can locals detect a machine-translated or machine-translated plus post editing content?

Because machine translations are not entirely perfect, there are ways to detect if the web content is machine translated or not. First off, locals can spot their language through the use of syntax and grammar. They easily check out the context of the words and may spot one or two phrases that may seem different from what they use daily.

A more technical approach is when professionals detect what kind of machine translation service is used, whether proxy-based or web-browser-based. Although the latter is more difficult to detect, there are still ways to check for the original content.

Training for editing content after machine translation has shown to vary in terms of guidelines and rules. This makes it more difficult to detect than machine translated texts.

When to Use Machine Translation and Machine Translation Plus Post Editing?

The advent of machine translation has indeed changed the course of global marketers, and the addition of post editing has made businesses grow even more. But you may ask what translation service will directly benefit your business? This quick guide will shed more light on what kind of translation service will suit you the most.

Consider your Audience

The first question you may ask and prioritize is who is your target audience? Are you dealing with a small group of people? Or is your platform for a wider scope of people?

If you are dealing with a small group, you may not need high-yield content editing and may just use machine translation. A small amount of time to proofread the content will do, and the need to have a professional editor may not be essential.

However, when your content has a higher and wider scope, you may need to have a more authentic and local feel in your content. In this case, the text may need to have a touch of human translation, thus machine translation post-editing services may be warranted.


Another point of consideration you may need to ponder on is the accuracy. If you are dealing with a small amount of text that will not need further grammar and syntax translations, machine translation is the right one for you. It is very cost-effective and is easily accessible for your translation needs.

If the need to translate goes beyond the basic words, machine translation post-editing may be the right one for the job. This is especially true if it is visible to a wide audience and might have more human interaction, compared to small text translations.


Businesses may sometimes need to have their content not just translated, but have it transcreated. Through transcreation, documents and other types of web content are being shown to foreign clients and investors. This line of work involves creative design and accurate translations for a more local adaptation of the context.

In doing transcreation, there is a great deal of context translation. Thus, it is not advisable to have the source translated by a machine to avoid sending the wrong message to the audience. There are professional marketing translators, who ensure that the right context still applies to various languages.

Although both machine translation and the one with post-editing can still be applied in this field, having a more natural and authentic message through professional translators is still the best way to give your audience the true essence of what you are trying to convey. 


Technology has broken language barriers, to a point that almost any content in any language can be translated to another. This has opened up opportunities for most brands and has been a great way to cater to a more international audience.

Professional translation services enhance the global presence of a certain business. Machine translation has changed the career trajectory of most business owners. And the hybrid translation through machine translation plus post-editing has also put companies at the top of their game.

Whether your content has used machine translation or machine translation post-editing, it is only moving forward in the presence of a more diverse audience. These tools have not held back the growth of companies and have only driven better customer service and a more polished message to the world.