Ebay and Post-Edited Machine Translation

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I was checking my email a few minutes ago and what do I see? Yet another large translation company offered me an exciting opportunity to train Ebay’s MT (machine translation) engine. What? Post-Edited Machine Translation is still alive? It is certainly looks so. But is it any good? Well, for the money translation companies keep offering us, I really doubt it. That’s why I created this template and you, my dear colleagues, can use it whenever anyone is offering you to post-edit machine translation. In my case I was offered to work on Ebay project. But I’m sure there are plenty of other big-data companies that are tempted to use Post-Edited Machine Translation for their content. Here is my general reply for them:

Dear Project Manager,
Post-editing of machine translation is a dead end of our industry. It will never yield any meaningful results. Especially for my language pair. And especially when it comes to technical translation. I worked on Ebay PEMT project once. Never laughed so hard in my entire life. I even collected some of my favorite translation fails and read it every now and then to lighten up my mood.
So, please stop chasing profits for a minute and think about what’s best for our industry. I’m just a translator, I have no influence on top dogs like Ebay. But you’re in the front row. They trust you with their projects. Do you think it is fair to waste their money like this? I think it’s greedy and disrespectful to say the least. We have to educate our clients and find the best suitable solutions for them. I refuse to believe that multi-billion company can’t afford human-powered translations. The machine will never be as good as translator. Not in the next 100 years, that’s for sure. Do you really intend to keep milking them for the next hundred years? Or maybe it is time to stop living in the fantasy?
And one more thing: offering 2 cents per word for training a machine that is theoretically designed to replace me is just one gigantic slap in my face. It’s like asking a lawyer to teach a robot the principles of law so he could replace him in court. Or even a better example for you: would you train a machine which will replace you, as a project manager in a language company, meaning that you will loose your job? I don’t think you would. That’s why I can’t think of a single professional translator from my circles who would agree to do that. So imagine who you’re ending up with doing that job, and what is the quality of their output. Something to think about, right?

Best regards,
Dmitry Kornyukhov
English to Russian Translator, Proofreader and Localizer
Member of ProZ.com Certified PRO Network, EN 15038
ph.: +1 (647) 783-0477
skype: welovedoka
web: http://bestrussiantranslator.com
P.S.: What are your thoughts about Post-Edited Machine Translation, my dear readers? Have you ever participated in such projects? What is your experience?
Photo Credit:

Dmitry Kornyukhov

Entrepreneur. English-Russian Translator. Video game localization specialist. Helping small and medium-sized businesses go global. Loving every minute of it.


Roser Bosch · October 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm

100% agree! I actually have a similar entry in my own blog: ‘Junk translations for a frenzied world’ http://ow.ly/D2LYJ
And many thanks for the template – will certainly keep it in mind! I also have this template email that I use to reply to rubbish job offers, which I also invite anyone to use if they wish so:

“Dear xxx,

Agencies like yours degrade the translation profession. 0,xx USD/word is a miserable rate for a professional translation. Translators shouldn’t work for peanuts. Instead, you should educate clients and make them understand that they need to pay according to the qualifications and experience required for a good translation.
You will surely find someone interested in working for that rate, but it won’t certainly be experienced and well-qualified translators.
[Translator’s footer]
Supporter of the Quality in Translation campaign: http://www.qualityintranslation.org

    Dmitry Kornyukhov · October 21, 2014 at 12:38 am

    Thanks for your feedback, Roser. Indeed, those offers are ridiculous and we, as professionals, have every right to reject them. And I do believe that we need to raise the awareness among our clients and fellow translators so they won’t fall into the same trap.

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