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Lionbridge Laⁱnguage Cloud™: Is Machine Translation getting better?

How our next-generation localization platform meets your content needs with AI, automation, machine translation, and best fit human translators

Any business with an international presence needs top-notch translation services. To make sure you're communicating effectively with the global market, you need to know that you have accurate, high-quality translations for everything from your website to the digital chatbots that provide customer service.

In a world that continues to churn out more and more content, how can you translate both efficiently and effectively? As machine translation (MT) technology continues to improve, your company could find itself facing a number of options—and trying to juggle a trifold need for speed, quality, and cost-effectiveness.

Machine Translation vs. Human Translation

Machine translation enables lightning-speed translations, but they may lack the nuanced quality and professional assurance of a human translation (HT). Machine translation with post-editing (MTPE) by a human translator, while not quite as fast as raw machine translation, gives your copy a more polished and professional feel. Think of it as content improvement for machine translations.

So, how do you know when you can get away with pure machine translation, and when content improvement is your best option? Fortunately, you no longer need to decide. The Lionbridge Lainguage Cloud platform can automatically choose the right process for you. With the Lainguage Cloud, you can localize all of your content better, faster, and in even more languages.

However, the method you choose ultimately comes down to customer experience (CX). Ask yourself:

  • Can you effectively reach the target audience in their non-native language? 
  • Can you afford not to target audiences in their native language? Will the lack of content impact your bottom line?
  • Is your content critical to the customer experience? Or will a passable translation suffice?

As the demand for multilingual content grows, so does the demand for professional translations—and there are only so many translators in the world. Companies that learn how to leverage MT at scale will be able to create more customer journeys that will better support their growth. By adopting a modern localization platform such as the Lainguage Cloud, you can ensure sustainable growth in every language and every market.

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Machine Translation vs. Content Improvement

Yet before we explore the benefits of the Lainguage Cloud, let’s take a deeper look at how machine translation and machine translation with content improvement compare.

Machine translation is the automated translation of source material into another language. MT has greatly improved in speed and accuracy in recent years due to advances in software and hardware alike.

It's now possible to "teach" computers to solve language translation tasks in various ways, from building statistical models to neural machine translation (NMT) systems that map the ways words commonly associate with each other.

Machine translation engines can process millions of words per hour and produce reasonably accurate, usable translations in nearly any language. In short, the robots are getting really smart, really fast.

However, MT translations, while intelligible and improving, still feel like their name: that is, machine translations. Even as machine translation systems get smarter, they still have a long way to go before they can match human understanding of nuance, tone, sarcasm, humor, meaning—the list goes on. If you rely solely on machine translations, the robotic nature of its tone could end up compromising your message. That, in turn, could suggest to customers that the service you provide is low-quality or unreliable.

Translations of public-facing content should always read naturally and fit seamlessly into the cultural context of your target market. If you want to produce high-quality, localized content, hiring native speakers to review your translation is worth the investment. Consider it this way: if you’ve already paid a marketing agency to create a campaign and write marketing collateral, you want to ensure it’s translated well. That's where content improvement comes in.

Content improvement is a hybrid of MT and traditional, human translation. As its name suggests, it follows the MT process.

First, software produces an initial translation of the material, making short work of bulk translation tasks. Once this initial translation is complete, human translators take the text and edit it for accuracy, clarity, flow, and local resonance. In short, they check the machine's work and infuse the copy with the translation quality only a human can provide.

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Lionbridge Lainguage Cloud: The AI Powered Content Platform

The Lainguage Cloud streamlines the localization process by combining the power of AI and automation with the finesse of best fit translators to deliver engaging content every time. Powered by Smairt Data™, the platform leverages insights derived from Smairt Content™ algorithms to automate the entire translation journey. This lets you boost content output while enhancing the quality and performance across more languages.

With the Lainguage Cloud, you can enhance the localization process by:

  • Reducing friction between teams for content creation
  • Accelerate the speed of translation
  • Lower costs by limiting HT to your highest value content

Best of all, it lets you leave localization to the professionals and focus on what you do best—crafting original content for your audience.

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Which Type of Translation is Right for You?

Now that you understand the basics of each type of translation, how should you choose between them? Let's take a look at the pros and cons of each:


Machine Translation


Content Improvement

Ultimately, choosing between machine translation and machine translation with content improvement depends on the task at hand, as well as on your budget, editorial calendar, and desired results. This can be a complex calculation, and the weight you attach to each variable will be unique to your business–and may change over time. Consider these use cases to help you decide:


When to Use Machine Translation When to Use Content Improvement

When you need to publish a piece of content as quickly as possible

When you need a culturally sensitive or relevant translation

If you have a limited budget

If the text requires technical knowledge (such as medicine, law, mechanics, etc.)

In times when a rough translation will suffice (e.g., for low-priority internal messages)

When you are translating public-facing materials (advertisements, product descriptions, etc.)

When you have very large volumes of text to translate

Good candidates for content improvement include blog posts, packaging inserts, instruction manuals, and website content.

Machine translation is often appropriate for chats, support tickets, and user-generated content like crowd-sourced Q&As, as well as other items where exact translations aren't necessary or feasible. Visit our Machine Translation thought leadership page for the latest trends on MT.

We typically do not recommend that clients use raw MT for public-facing materials, especially when it's important for those materials to reflect your brand across global markets. It's best to leave creative copy like slogans and headlines to human translators.

The Takeaway

Companies need to publish multilingual content faster than ever. Yet prioritizing which content to localize is a task unto itself. With the Lainguage Cloud, you no longer need to decide. You can localize it all by relying on MT to complete most tasks, leaving only the highest value content for human translators.

Today, the question isn’t: Should you use HT vs. MT or MT with content improvement? You need to use them all, depending on your content’s purpose and audience. And you need a modern localization platform that manages it at scale, freeing you to focus on delivering great content that grows your business.

The Lainguage Cloud not only automates the translation process, it also matches you with the ideal translator or editor based on your target language and subject matter. When you work with Lionbridge, you get the best possible copy—and customer experience—no matter where in the world you plan to publish it.

Want to learn more about how the Lainguage Cloud can streamline your next translation project? Get in touch.

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The Lionbridge Team
The Lionbridge Team