Welcome to the second part of Machine Translation in Game Localization! In the first part, we talked about what machine translation and MTPE is and machine translation usage in game localization. In this part, we will focus more on the advantages and disadvantages of MTPE. So, let’s start!
As with anything in life, MT has its advantages and disadvantages, and you can decide whether MT is the way to go by weighing the pros and cons. Let’s go with one advantage followed by a disadvantage:
If the source text doesn’t include difficult-to-understand segments, a translator can usually handle around 350-400 words in an hour, sometimes a little bit more. What MT does here is that it pre-translates the text, so you get a draft translation. Then, the translator edits this draft and gets their final translation. Especially if the MT works properly, the amount of words a translator can handle in this situation can go up to 1000 words, maybe even more. Hence, using machine translation can facilitate the translation process.
There is a completely different side as well: what if the MT is not a good one? There may be situations where using MT decreases the amount of words a translator handles in an hour. When you have a really bad MT output, the translator has to work even more. They need to detect the mistake(s) and fix them. It sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, don’t judge before you experience it. Editing fatigue is real, and sometimes it confuses the translators to a point where they cannot even see the mistakes. Constant post-editing might be exhausting, and to be honest, quite boring.
There are ways to make a machine translation engine better. Basically, the more you feed the machine, the better results you get. Of course, you don’t need machine translation to have consistency. You can have that with translation memories as well, but if you are working on completely different projects, you won’t be able to use the same translation memory over and over again, you will need separate memories. For example, let’s say you are translating a text and an idiom shows up: “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Probably, when the MT engine sees this sentence, it’s going to translate literally no matter the language. However, if you keep feeding the engine with the right translation, it will eventually learn, which will lead to consistency, even without the help of a translation memory.
Machine Translation: Could It Be a Subject Matter Expert?
Some texts can be translated by all translators regardless of their expertise. Some texts, on the other hand, necessitate subject matter experts. These could be very technical texts or legal texts. How could a machine translation engine replace a subject matter expert here? This is why post-editing by SMEs is crucial in this scenario.
One of the reasons why MTPE is dominating right now is the cost of it. Since you’re not expected to work on the text as long as you would without MT, you don’t get paid the full price. You get a percentage of the full price even if you do spend the same amount of time.
Overlooked Cultural Components
Each language is filled with cultural nuances and context-specific references. These cultural nuances can sometimes only be understood by a native speaker of that language. Machine translation engines might be improving, but we don’t think they are there yet. Here, post-editors play a crucial role. Especially in game localization, we talk about a concept called culturalization. MT engines cannot successfully “culturalize” a text, we need an actual human localization specialist. For example, there may be some taboos in the target culture, and the possibility of the MT engines to know these taboos are very slim.
So, after reading these advantages and disadvantages, if you think you can leverage machine translation for your projects, go ahead and do that, but make sure you are not only using MT in the process. It is extremely important for your business that you combine the power of machine translation with the expertise and knowledge of an actual human translator.
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