Translation software in the age of machines – what you need to know

Opening the door to more international customers has never been easier thanks to new translation software solutions.


      Taking your business global

      To reach out to a worldwide audience, you need to communicate in more than one language. Luckily, options for translating your content are now plentiful. This means you can talk to customers directly, wherever in the world they are and whatever language they speak. One of the easiest ways to translate your content is to use machine translation software (MT).

      Machine translation is now an efficient and cost-effective solution for many companies. It’s particularly useful if you have a large volume of content to translate within a short timescale, but it can also speed up or improve other translation tasks. A growing number of companies are turning to MT when they need quick, simultaneous translations into multiple languages.

      Without a doubt, using machine translation software opens new doors, helping you increase international sales, grow your customer base and build better relationships with suppliers and other international contacts.

      Machine translate your text using the latest, secure technology.

      Could MT help your business? Keep reading to find out.

      What is machine translation software?

      In a nutshell, machine translation engines use huge amounts of source and target language dictionaries to compare and match words and phrases. This enables them to automatically translate content into a new language. In its simplest form, all you’re required to do is copy and paste text into the input area, choose your target language and hit ‘Go’. You can even scan text and translate.

      Free MT software

      There are many free translation tools out there. However, they aren’t without their drawbacks, specifically concerning the accuracy and security of your content. Most free tools are also limited when it comes to translating larger documents or websites, but they might be acceptable for smaller projects.

      Read more: Free translation software

      Paid-for MT software

      There are also machine translation software solutions that you pay for. Unless you’re looking for a very basic method of translation for smaller, one-off tasks, they’re usually the better option of the two. But every business has unique needs so it’s well worth familiarising yourself with the pros and cons of different solutions before making a choice.

      A brief history of machine translation software

      Scientists have tried for decades to create automatic translation software that’s reliable and accurate enough to be used for commercial purposes. As far back as the 1950s, researchers experimented with using computing power for translations. However, even simple translation tasks are extremely complex for computers, and early machines weren’t up to the job. They lacked both the processing power and the data storage capacity to handle the size of the language databases.

      Google was a major frontrunner in the development of MT. Although Google Translate was an early success story, it took another ten years to create something reliable and accurate enough for serious applications. Since then, improved computer processing and data storage space means that the early pioneers’ vision is now a reality.

      Google is still involved in the development of machine translation software, alongside other big players in the language industry. In 2016, it began testing the use of artificial intelligence and neural learning models to build translation software that learned as it was used. This led to the development of the Google Neural Machine Translation system (GNMT).

      Fast capable automatic translation solutions are widely available today, but different types of MT software provide varying results. That’s why it’s important to know what’s going to work best for your business before you invest.

      What types of MT software are available?

      The most basic types of MT software use a method of word-for-word substitution. This is often the process used in free software, and accuracy can be a problem. More advanced technologies use statistically modelled translation to improve accuracy. The best translation software solutions use artificial intelligence to learn during the translation process and improve with use.

      Some tools are suited to simply helping users with basic short tasks, while others can produce results almost on par with professional human translators.

      Let’s take a deeper dive into the main types of machine translation software available:

      Rule-based machine translation (RBMT)

      This was the first type of translation software developed. It’s usually free software or available at a low cost, but has relatively poor accuracy and struggles with higher volumes when compared to more sophisticated solutions.

      RBMT requires new languages to be added manually, which takes hours of valuable time. Translations also need a substantial amount of post-editing to bring their quality up to any useful standard. These disadvantages mean that this type of software is most suited to simple translations where complete accuracy isn’t essential.

      Statistical machine translation (SMT)

      Statistical machine translation creates models of the relationships it finds between words and whole phrases in the source material. It then compares this model to the target language to assist with the translation. It’s a better option than rule-based machine translation for most tasks, but still falls short of neural translation tools when it comes to accuracy.

      Neural machine translation (NMT)

      Neural machine translation is the latest development in MT software. It offers the highest standards of accuracy and is becoming the industry standard for companies that need high-quality machine translations.

      NMT, such as Semantix machine translation service, uses artificial intelligence to constantly improve its results and carry out tasks with increasing speed as it learns. Over time, it begins to ‘understand’ the context of source material so that it can predict the most suitable words and phrases to use from the target language. These types of neural engines learn the meaning of complete sentences before translating them. This delivers higher quality, more ‘human-sounding’ output. It’s also easier and far quicker to add new languages to this kind of software.

      What are the benefits of MT?

      Using machine translation has benefits over working with human translators depending on the standard of the software you choose. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that whatever type of MT you’re using, it’s always a good idea to have a human translator carry out some form of post-editing. This is especially the case when accuracy in localisations is essential.

      Translation software enables you to:

      • Save time: Modern software can translate whole websites or entire documents in seconds. Machine translation outpaces human translators so you can complete larger projects in shorter timescales.
      • Reduce costs: Fewer translator hours equal substantially lower staffing costs. The multiple languages available with MT also reduce the number of translation professionals you need to employ.
      • Use translation memories: More capable machine translation tools can remember terms and reuse them in future translations. This is particularly useful for translations including industry-specific terminology or a unique brand style.

      MT and security

      Lost data and confidentiality breaches are costly and can have serious legal implications, notably concerning compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). This should be an important consideration when you’re choosing MT software.

      There are two sides to the story when it comes to the relationship between MT software and data security.

      Using MT to automatically translate sensitive documents reduces the number of people that have access to that information. Human errors as simple as opening malicious links or attachments from cyber-attackers account for a large proportion of data security breaches. Having fewer human touchpoints reduces these risks.

      On the other hand, if you’re using an online translation tool, your data is only as secure as the server it’s stored on. This can also apply to desktop or mobile app solutions. For this reason, experts don’t recommend using free online translation tools for confidential or sensitive material. Using MT like Google Translate means that once you’ve pasted your text into the input screen, you’ve lost control of it. That text is stored on a server somewhere and could be subject to hacking or cyber-attack.

      Neural machine translation software such as Semantix machine translation gives your employees access to a completely secure service. Translations take place in a closed system and data transfer is encrypted. This means you can rest assured that costly security breaches won’t be a problem. We offer a free demonstration of our machine translation service on our website.

      Choosing the best machine translation software

      Choosing the right software for your translation needs can be a difficult task. With so many options available, it’s hard to know which one to choose for your business. But, as with so many other things in life, knowledge is power. Having a clear picture of exactly what you need from your software is key to making the right choice.

      Questions to consider:

      • How do you need the software to work? For example, do you need to scan text and translate?
      • Is perfect accuracy a priority and do you have human post-editing available? Basic software may be more cost-effective for tasks like translating simple internal communications where pinpoint accuracy isn’t essential. A higher level of accuracy demands a more sophisticated MT software solution.
      • What are your target languages? Statistical machine translation might be able to handle certain language pairs adequately if they stem from a similar root. For example, translations are easier between Latin-based languages as they share many grammatical rules and structures.
      • How might your needs change? If you’re investing in MT, consider what you might need it to do in the future as well as your current requirements.
      • What is your budget? The more capabilities MT software has, the more it costs. Make sure you cover your needs but don’t pay for features that won’t be used.
      • What are the legal requirements concerning your data security? How sensitive is your material and what are the implications of a leak?
      • How complex is your source material? Statistical machine translation can easily handle simple or repetitive translations. For more complex translations, you’ll need more powerful software.

      The take-away

      The cutting-edge solutions available today have capabilities that the early pioneers could only dream of. There are a whole host of reasons why many organisations find them an indispensable part of their workflows. But to reap all the benefits, you must choose the best translation software for your business and translation activities.

      Machine translation offers you:

      • Large volumes and speed: Today’s best translation software is fast… and it’s getting faster all the time. MT can now translate millions of words into multiple languages in seconds.
      • A huge choice of languages: If you’re taking a product to a global marketplace or talking to the world through social media platforms, machine translation can help. It can translate into multiple languages simultaneously and help you to reach more potential customers than ever before.
      • Reduced costs: You’ll cut the time translators have to spend on tasks, even if they’re involved in the post-editing stage. MT software also gives you access to more languages, which means you won’t have to employ more translators to cover those requirements.

      MT is a game changer. However, if complete accuracy is essential in your communications and content, any machine translation needs some form of post-editing by a human translator. It’s also worth considering that current software can’t provide that unmistakably human ‘personal touch’. They won’t add creative nuances and don’t have any sense of humour – yet!

      Semantix machine translation solution

      Semantix is the Nordic’s leading translation specialist. We’ve spent many years researching and developing our own machine translation tool. We aimed to build a neural machine translation engine that offers simplicity, security and adaptability.

      Simplicity: Access a simple interface from any computer within your organisation. Easily translate entire files and retain the formatting of the original document. And if you need technical advice, our friendly support team is available to help.

      Security: We process and store your data in a closed system that is never exposed to the public domain. All transfers of data are encrypted. This helps you comply with regulations such as EU GDPR.

      Adaptability: Our MT service is a neural machine translation software. This means that it learns as it processes your translations. It can also be seamlessly integrated with your organisation’s own IT environment.

      And if your translated content needs a final polish, we also offer human post-editing services delivered by our team of expert, native-speaking translators.You can try our machine translation service for free on our website. Don’t forget to let us know what you think of it.

      If you’re considering using MT software, you have plenty of options to choose from. Deciding on the right software means finding the right match for your translation activities, budget and plans for the future. Contact Semantix and we’ll help you find the best solution.

      Contact Semantix and we’ll help you find the best solution.