Machine Translation Post-Editing and ISO 18587:2017 Certification

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Machine translation (MT) systems are becoming an increasingly popular tool for meeting the demands of the translation and localisation industries. Many translation service providers (TSPs) have realised that combining MT systems with translation memories offers faster and more cost-effective solutions for clients.

However, subtle nuances in meaning and complex grammatical structures require human sensitivity in order for a text to be translated accurately. This means MT systems are unable to produce output equal to a human translation, and so the quality of MT still depends on a translator’s post-editing skills.

To help improve this quality and standardise MT solutions throughout the industry, the ISO 18587 certification was developed in 2017. At Intertranslations, we are delighted that our strict processes meet these requirements. Read on to learn more about post-editing and what this certification means for both our translation agency and our clients.

What is post-editing?

Machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is the process of correcting texts translated by a machine translation engine. Post-editing is distinct from other translation processes in that it involves three texts; the source text, the machine translation output, and the final target text. This means you get all the cost and time benefits of machine translation (MT) while maintaining the quality of a human translation. 

ISO 18587:2017 certification

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) is an independent organisation aiming to establish international standards of quality across various industries, including translation. However, MT systems and translation technologies are rapidly evolving.  As such, developing an overarching international standard for these systems could stifle innovation or simply be ignored by the translation technology development industry.

Despite this challenge, the first steps have been taken towards standardising MTPE services with the ISO 18587:2017. This standard outlines the best practices for full, human post-editing of machine translation output, only mentioning other levels of post-editing such as light post-editing. It also sets out the requirements for the post-editors’ competencies.

However, this standard is limited to the steps taking place between the delivery of the MT output and the start of the human post-editing process. Intended for use by TSPs, their clients, and post-editors, it only applies to content processed by machine learning systems. Outside of this, ISO 17100:2015 is to be used as the general standard for translation services.

ISO 18587:2017 MTPE process

According to 18587:2017, the TSP is fully responsible for the entire post-editing project. As such, they should adhere to the processes laid out by this international standard. The first step of this is to have a set process that determines whether the source text is actually suitable for MT and post-editing. During this stage, they should also consult with their client to determine any factors that could impact the text’s suitability.

To help the machine translation process produce better results, the source text can also be pre-edited beforehand. This improves the quality of raw MT output while reducing the post-editing workload.

The final output must then be accurate, comprehensible, and stylistically appropriate, with correct syntax, grammar, and punctuation. While the goal of post-editing is to produce a translation on par with the quality of a human translation, post-editors should only make necessary changes. The aim is to use as much of the raw MT output as possible.

ISO 18587:2017 post-editor requirements

The standard also lays out requirements for using appropriate technical resources and recruiting qualified post-editors. When recruiting a post-editor, it is the TSP’s responsibility to ensure that the post-editor has the necessary translation, linguistic, technical and cultural skills and knowledge. They must also ensure that the post-editor performs the following tasks: 

  • Reading the MT output and determining whether reformulation of the target language content is required;
  • Using the source language content as a reference to comprehend and, if necessary, correct the target language content;
  • Creating target language content from existing MT output elements or providing new translation.

Throughout the post-editing process, the TSP must also ensure that the post-editor meets the following objectives at all times:

  • Comprehensibility of the post-edited output;
  • Correspondence of source and target language content;
  • Compliance with the TSP’s post-editing requirements and specifications.

Finally, this international standard states that there must be a process in place to collect feedback from post-editors on the performance of the MT system. These invaluable insights can then be used to improve the TSP’s MT systems and processes, further improving the quality of all their future MTPE projects.

Intertranslations receives ISO 18587:2017 certification

At Intertranslations, we are proud to be certified according to ISO 18587:2017 standards. We provide expert translation services in more than 350 different language pairs, offering a range of translation and post-editing solutions to suit your needs.

When it comes to machine translation, we train our networks using customer-specific data for unrivalled quality in our MT output. Our professional translators then proofread any output to ensure the quality meets your expectations.

Being certified to ISO 18587:2017 standards is evidence of the rigorous and effective post-editing and QA processes we have in place. These processes are there to enhance the quality of our machine translation output, giving clients the confidence needed to trust our team with MT projects.

Ready to start your own translation project? Reach out to the Intertranslations team for a quote and find out if MT could provide the right solution for your needs.

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