What is Machine Translation?

As technology continuously evolves and step by step replaces human force in many fields, machine translation is becoming more and more popular. To some extent, machine translation can be superior to human translation but there will be troubles if you do not understand it or have unrealistic expectations. The question is “Can machine perform as well as a human linguist?” and “Can we totally rely on automation translation?” To find out the answer, we need to clarify what MT is, what its advantages/ disadvantages are and most importantly, when to use it.

What is Machine Translation (MT)?

Machine Translation is the use of software to translate text or speech from one language to another. A machine translation engine is used to make substitution of words in a source language to the target one. Even though MT can be fast and productive, it cannot provide the highest quality and most accurate translation. The reason is that it cannot fully recognize whole phases and their closet counterparts in the target language.

If general meaning of the text is all you need, MT can provide an acceptable version. MT is a good choice if you have a tight budget and do not need a perfect quality translation.

Advantages of MT

  • It’s the fastest way of translation a content into a target language
  • It’s inexpensive
  • Human review can be added to improve quality
  • Translation memories can be used for key terms storage
  • MT can be integrated with a cloud-based TMS
  • It’s ideal for webpage translation

Disadvantages of MT

  • Low accuracy rate of 60-80%
  • Different languages work better with different MT engines
  • Difficulties in translating technical terms, slang or nuanced meanings
  • The expression can be unnatural and stilted

When to use machine translation (MT)?

Your translation requirements will define whether you should use MT or a professional translator. The Content Value Index can help you find out the most suitable type of translation and review you need. Professional linguists give you the best quality, Community translation offers good results and MT brings you the acceptable versions. You can use the Content Value Index to decide the best type of translation for you depending on the content, time constraints, budget and the level of quality you need.



The secret to gaining success is to have the right tools and strategies for your business. MT can be a perfect fit for some projects but can also be a poor choice for the others. MT is not recommended if you need to translate technical and important content like press release, white papers, website localization, software, etc. By understanding thoroughly about MT, you will be able to make wiser decision when choosing the type of translation to best suit your needs.


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