METM14 presentation

Editor, translator or post-editor? Or how machine translation is here to stay

Celia Rico, Madrid, Spain

What? In the last couple of years or so, an apparently new role has emerged in the LSP world: that of the post-editor. The debate is still open as to who, how and when post-editing should be done, if at all. While opposing views are to be found among translators, the fact is that the industry is progressively incorporating machine translation as a service (and the client is asking for it). In this respect, it is essential to understand the different angles this situation encompasses if we are to contribute fruitfully to the debate.

How? This presentation will make a case for post-editing as a specific assignment for the correction of machine-generated translation output. After a description of the tasks involved, the profile of the post-editor will be introduced, with particular mention of key skills. Real examples of post-edited text from English into Spanish will be presented, so as to illustrate how this is accomplished in a real setting.

Why? Even if recent developments in machine translation have placed post-editing at the centre of the debate, the truth is that post-editing as a profession on its own can be traced back to 1985, with reports of work carried out at the Pan American Health Organization. Machine translation had been implemented some years earlier for translating from Spanish into English, with a productivity of 4,000 to 10,000 words a day per post-editor. Post-editing was then defined as “adjusting the machine output so that it reflects as accurately as possible the meaning of the original text, [with an emphasis on] adjusting relatively predictable difficulties”. Since then, the use of the term post-editor and, thus, its specific role in the translation industry as a rising profession has been gaining momentum. It is time we enter the arena.
Celia Rico, PhD, is a senior lecturer at the Universidad Europea (Madrid, Spain), where she trains future translators on the fundamentals of CAT tools as well as on the principles of translation strategies. Dr. Rico's publications have concentrated on areas such as translation memory evaluation, machine translation and translator competence, and the impact of new technologies on the translation profession. Her major contributions to post-editing are to be found in different international publications together with the public reports of project EDI-TA.