Frequently Asked Questions about Machine Translation


Machine translation / MT – fully automated translation of a text from one language into another.

MT post-editing / MTPE, sometimes just “post-editing” – the editing of machine-translation output.

MT engine – a system that translates texts from one language into another using machine translation based on artificial intelligence.

MT output – a machine translation in the target language without any edits.

Automatic translator / Machine translator / Machine translation system – software that translates automatically using an MT engine.

Have some questions about machine translation? We’ll answer them all.

What’s the difference between machine translation and MT? Or, what’s post-editing?

Machine translation = MT.

MT Post-editing (MTPE for short), sometimes also just “editing”, is a service based on the editing of machine translation (MT) output. The goal is a translation that is qualitatively comparable to the output from a human translator.

Is MT related to artificial intelligence?

Yes, the MT engine itself is based on the principles of artificial intelligence and neural networks. The subsequent editing process is based purely on the work of a human being (a translator).

Why are you offering me this type of service?

To save you money. Selected MT engines are now at a high enough level of quality that they can be utilized professionally. We build long-term partnerships with our customers based on trust and the quality of our services. So if a technology that can help our customers (to reduce costs, increase quality, speed up the translation process etc.), we always head towards it.

Is the quality of machine translation (MT) sufficient?

Yes, for suitable text types, the quality of machine translations after post-editing by a translator (MTPE) is at the level of human translations. And just as with human translations, we then recommend revision by a second translator.

Can MT help with translating texts of all types?

No. Currently only certain types of texts from selected fields are suited for the use of MT: The best-suited are technical manuals, legal texts and stereotypical and standardized texts overall. MT’s linguistic style is very terse, and therefore it is outright unsuited for translating stylistically demanding texts (marketing and creative texts, literature etc.).

Will my translations be stored “in one pile” with translations from other companies?

No. We always have confidentiality of information contractually guaranteed by the provider of the specific MT engine used. You can thus be sure that no unauthorized persons will see your texts. Your translations prepared using MT and checked and edited by a translator will subsequently be stored in your translation memory, just like your past translations.

Why should I pay you for this, when I can have it somewhere else for free?

The difference between the professional utilization of MT and Google Translate, or any other public automatic translator, can be immense. There are a number of limitations in the freely available machine translators, and so professional agencies never use these.

Some examples of these limitations:

  • A limit on the number of words you can translate for free.
  • Limited support for various file formats.
  • The texts you enter are freely utilized by third parties. Confidentiality of information is not maintained, and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) infractions can occur.
  • There is no possibility for integration into a translation tool and thus the use of your translation memory. This can cause inconsistencies.

But above all, unedited MT output occasionally contains very serious errors – these can involve changed meanings, omitted words etc. And errors like these are simply inadmissible in certain fields (especially wherever a translation error can cause property loss, injuries or the loss of life). For this reason, every text from a machine translator should be left to go through editing (post-editing by a professional translator).

On the other hand, work with a professional MT engine does not have the limitations listed above and is just one more way to utilize technologies and offer high-quality translations quickly and inexpensively. Keep in mind that machine translation is only one of the services in our portfolio – it is not a replacement for a traditional translation. Because not all documents are suited for machine translation.

Why can’t MT be used to translate e.g. website texts, since you are going to be editing them anyway?

Marketing texts and other stylistically demanding texts are completely unsuited for the use of MT. This is because MT uses very terse language, and meanwhile in website texts, the website’s owner is trying to catch potential customers, and linguistic style plays a significant part in this.

Here editing of the MT output would be just as demanding as a new translation. The use of MT could thus actually even be damaging, because for creative texts it’s ideal when the translator doesn’t have a “template” that subconsciously limits them.

What’s the difference between MT and CAT translations? In terms of quality, the process etc.?

Machine translation (MT) is a process during which a translation is generated by computer software. That means subsequent post-editing by a translator is necessary. CAT tools are used by professional translators to make their work faster and higher-quality. When these tools are in use, a translation is being prepared directly by a translator, while with MT, it is produced by an MT engine and only then is it touched (edited) by a human translator.

Is MT output seen by a translator? That is, do translators work on such texts as well, or does the machine translation remain in its “raw” form?

Yes, it is. For the customer, the translation process remains practically unchanged, because the machine translation is just the first step. The next one (and an indispensable one) is editing of the machine translator’s output. At first sight it may seem that the output from MT is high enough in quality that the text needs no further touches. But that is not the case. Unedited MT translations (often termed “Raw MT Output”) occasionally contains very serious errors – these can involve changed meanings, omitted words etc. In some fields, such errors can have drastic consequences. With “traditional” translations a text is typically translated by one translator and then reviewed by another. Things should also work similarly with translations that make use of MT: the output from MT is edited by an experienced post-editor and subsequently reviewed by a second translator.

Will my company’s terminology and consistency with previous translations be retained with MT?

Yes. Outside of one single step, in which translation itself is replaced by MT post-editing, the translation process is unchanged. The same number of human translators will work on your texts as in the past. And we will also still use the translation memory from past orders and your list of terminology. MT is only one of the many technologies we use.

Can I rely on the quality of machine translation (MT)?

If the field and the type of text are suited for MT and all the necessary steps have been taken for the job, then the quality of a translation with the use of MT can be relied upon just as with a translation by a human. Our experienced project managers always make the decision on whether the use of MT is appropriate.

Do you still do regular translations?

Yes, regular translations are still among our services. Currently only certain text types and fields (such as technical manuals, legal, stereotypical and standardized texts) are suited for the use of machine translation (MT). Since MT uses a very terse linguistic style, it is not suited for use with stylistically demanding texts, and it is outright inappropriate for marketing and creative texts, as well as literature and other texts of this kind. MT is just one more among the services we provide. It represents yet another way to harness modern technologies to produce high-quality translations faster and for less.

Is a translation’s final quality reduced by the use of MT?

It is not. For texts of suitable types, the quality of machine translations after post-editing is at the level of regular translations. Just as with a human translation, we then recommend revision by a second translator.

Can we test this new service on a small sample so that we can see its level of quality?

Yes, you can have part of your order translated using MT, evaluate the quality and only then decide whether the project will be done using MT or as a regular translation.

Can you just run MT and deliver the output without MT post-editing? I just need it for understanding the text.

No, we do not provide this service. MT output can contain errors that, while rare, are critical. The lowest quality level we provide is just MT post-editing itself, which corresponds to our Basic quality level, i.e. translation without subsequent revision by a second translator.

Is there a difference in the translators used? Will the same team of translators work on our orders as in the past?

We try to maintain stable teams of translators for your translations, and the same also applies for MT post-editing, and so, yes, your team of translators will remain. However, because the MT post-editing service differs from traditional translation in several respects, we have offered training to our established translators as well as other teaching materials so that they can perform this service at a professional level of quality. We also offer them technical support and consulting during their work on jobs.

Can all of our texts be “translated” this way in the future?

That depends on the nature of your texts and how they will be used. MT is only suited for certain fields and types of texts. It is best-suited for technical manuals, legal texts and overall stereotypical and standardized texts. Meanwhile its terse style means that it fares poorly on stylistically demanding texts.

If we plan to have our texts translated with the use of MT, what benefits will it bring us in the future compared to regular translation?

Lower costs and less time spent, i.e. earlier delivery.

Can we get by with just MT post-editing without revision?

MT post-editing without revision corresponds to our Basic quality level. Without further proofreading, a translation like this is only suited for working purposes and is not appropriate for publishing.

How do you ensure that a machine translation will use our established terminology?

In our translation process, we strongly emphasize the use of the customer’s preferred terminology. Terminology is carefully verified at two points: after translation by the MT engine and its editing by a human translator, and after revision by a second human translator. We also automatically verify translations’ uniformity, spelling, number formatting etc.

Thanks to the integration of machine translation into CAT tools we can fully utilize their main benefits:

  1. A connection to a translation memory and the ensuring of consistency with previous translations.
  2. An automatic connection to a list of terminology that offers your preferred terms on its own.
  3. The use of quality assurance (QA) tools that can alert translators to a number of easy-to-miss mistakes.

From where does MT take its data? Won't the use of MT cause a violation of our NDA?

During its “learning” process, the MT engine used e.g. publicly available data from the internet or data purchased by the engine’s provider. Our customers’ data has never been used for training such engines.

MT engines that are customized for a particular customer, which go though “supplementary training” based on their specific data, form an exception. We offer customers this possibility, and we also guarantee that in this situation, data is used strictly for the given customer’s purposes alone and never for other MT engines.

Is MT used in all language combinations, or might there be a language combination for which MT is not suitable?

For certain language combinations or fields, MT is not yet high enough in quality, because in these combinations there are fewer translated texts worldwide, and thus fewer source texts for training a high-quality MT engine. At the very beginning of our cooperation, our experienced project managers make the decision on whether the use of MT is appropriate.

Have any other questions about machine translation crossed your mind? Take them directly to our Head of Sales Ondrej Konecny – write to, and he’ll be pleased to respond.

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