What are the realistic expectations for post-edited work?
Thread poster: Sam Tattam

Sam Tattam  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2015)
Italian to English
+ ...
Nov 14, 2018

Hi all,

I admittedly don't have much experience post-editing as I have tried to avoid it wherever possible but I was just asked by one agency to post-edit a 22,000 word document (of a very technical nature) from Italian into English.
They were offering 20 euros an hour, which I worked out to be 0.02 euros per word. I therefore explained that I could take on this task, but would not spend any more time on the project than I was paid for as I had a feeling that this would be a
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Hi all,

I admittedly don't have much experience post-editing as I have tried to avoid it wherever possible but I was just asked by one agency to post-edit a 22,000 word document (of a very technical nature) from Italian into English.
They were offering 20 euros an hour, which I worked out to be 0.02 euros per word. I therefore explained that I could take on this task, but would not spend any more time on the project than I was paid for as I had a feeling that this would be a time-consuming task, given the subject area. I was curtly told that I still had to produce a really high quality final document and it had to read as though it had been translated in the first place. I therefore decided that this was not the task for me, as I didn't think I could realistically post-edit 1000 words in an hour.

Is this a standard practice now? The experience I do have of post-editing tasks, involved helping the text make more sense, correcting any errors, etc., but was not really focused on the syntax. In my opinion, if a client wants a high-quality translation, then they should pay for it to be translated in the first place, not post-edited.

So if possible, I would just like to know about some of your own post-editing experiences (e.g. how many words per hour you can post-edit or are expected to, especially when dealing with technical documents, and what quality is expected?)

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sam
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:37
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Sam Nov 14, 2018

Sam Tattam wrote:
I was just asked by one agency to post-edit a 22,000 word document (of a very technical nature) from Italian into English. They were offering €0.02 per word [and said that I should be able to do 1000 words in an hour].


1. I don't do post-editing, but I do often use Google Translate to help me with translation, and when I do, I can only barely make 1000 words per hour (and that excludes QA and final proofreading).

2. I only know about post-editing in theory, so I'm looking forward to replies from actual post-editors.

From what I know, post-editing is a lot slower than translating with the aid of public machine translation, because during post-editing you should make only *necessary* edits. In post-editing, you don't have the freedom to just translate any way you like. If the source text is complex, then you have to evaluate not only the source text but also the provided translation, which is more time-consuming than just evaluating the source text and translating it from your head. I think you should estimate that it will take you either just as long as a normal translation, or up to 150% as long.

But "post-editing" has become a buzz word, and some clients use it to mean simply normal translation with a discount applied due to the translator being allowed to use public machine translation. If that is the case, then I think you should estimate that it will take you 75% to 80% as long as a normal translation.

I was curtly told that I still had to produce a really high quality final document and it had to read as though it had been translated in the first place. Is this a standard practice now? The experience I do have of post-editing tasks, involved helping the text make more sense, correcting any errors, etc., but was not really focused on the syntax.


It is my understanding that a post-edited translation should always be error-free in terms of meaning *and* grammar/syntax. But perhaps you mean "style" when you say "syntax"...? However, the client appears to expect the final result to read like it was translated by a human from scratch, or written by a native speaker from scratch, and that is an unrealistic expectation for post-editing.


[Edited at 2018-11-14 15:36 GMT]


neilmac
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:37
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
In the end.... Nov 14, 2018

.... post-editing is nothing more than proofreading a very bad translated text (= MT translation), to put it simply. I don't have a lot of experience in the matter, but for the few (small) jobs I did, I asked my hourly rate and told the client it would take as long as it would take. It is up to him to accept it or not.

neilmac
Juliane Roth
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
You never get a discount to expectations Nov 14, 2018

Sam Tattam wrote:
I therefore explained that I could take on this task, but would not spend any more time on the project than I was paid for as I had a feeling that this would be a time-consuming task, given the subject area. I was curtly told that I still had to produce a really high quality final document and it had to read as though it had been translated in the first place.

I think you were right to reject this. Going by my discussions with prospective clients, those that insist that they can only afford lower rates are as demanding as those that pay higher rates. Indeed, they seem to have more onerous conditions than most regarding paperwork, revision work and legal responsibility.

You just have to walk away, and keep looking for the good clients.

Regards,
Dan


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Michele Fauble
Gareth Callagy
 

Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 08:37
Member
English to French
+ ...
Full-post editing Nov 14, 2018

I do not offer MTPE anymore, but I have trained as a post-editor and been involved with some MTPE projects, so here are my two cents.

As always, ask to review the source text, but this time the MT output as well, or at least a good sample.

The customer should provide more information on the MT engine used. If it is a generic (not custom) MT engine for a highly technical document, just stay away.

On closer inspection, you might find that the document and/or
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I do not offer MTPE anymore, but I have trained as a post-editor and been involved with some MTPE projects, so here are my two cents.

As always, ask to review the source text, but this time the MT output as well, or at least a good sample.

The customer should provide more information on the MT engine used. If it is a generic (not custom) MT engine for a highly technical document, just stay away.

On closer inspection, you might find that the document and/or the MT output are simply not suited for the task. There should be relatively few edits to achieve the required quality.

I was curtly told that I still had to produce a really high quality final document and it had to read as though it had been translated in the first place.


This is what is called full post editing (look it up). Think 60-75% (or more) of your usual rate, which reflects the expected improvement on productivity. 1,000 words per hour is probably unrealistic. Full post-editing should never be offered at 0.02 EUR, which is not even an acceptable rate for proofreading human translation (roughly 1/3 of the translation rate).

Does post-editing MT output take the same amount of time as proofreading a human translation?

In my opinion, if a client wants a high-quality translation, then they should pay for it to be translated in the first place, not post-edited.


And this is probably the appraisal you should give them, after reviewing the project specifics.

Jean

[Edited at 2018-11-14 16:40 GMT]
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Ebrahim mohammed
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 07:37
English to Latvian
+ ...
PEMT is not translator's job Nov 15, 2018

My understanding is that PEMT should not be translator's job. It may be used in certain niche situations. Similarly, how Google Translate serves certain purposes with daily volumes exceeding human translations, MTPE jobs might exceed human translation jobs. Yet, translators, even if working as editors and proofreaders, still are expected to work on human produced content.

PEMT as a category is so different that it doesn't make sense to group them in the same translation business at
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My understanding is that PEMT should not be translator's job. It may be used in certain niche situations. Similarly, how Google Translate serves certain purposes with daily volumes exceeding human translations, MTPE jobs might exceed human translation jobs. Yet, translators, even if working as editors and proofreaders, still are expected to work on human produced content.

PEMT as a category is so different that it doesn't make sense to group them in the same translation business at all. PEMT requires vastly different skills and training and there are completely different expectations from their results.

Translation quality may be different between humans too, and it is possible that PEMT might eat some or even large part of the lower quality segment. In certain cases PEMT may be fully adequate but it can also cause confusion to end clients who just want translation done but don't really understand quality issues or its implications.
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Robert Rietvelt
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
without the original? Nov 17, 2018

There's a MTPE chasm between human translation and MT, which some businessmen try to fill in by human-assisted para-translation. Actually, they insist post-editors not only make MT if not comprehensible than more legible for people, but "almost a human translation".

It's like a farmer, who knows that a horse is more expensive than a pig, fastens horse hairs on his pigs and moves them into the stables, proudly announcing: "They look like horses and stay in the barn, so they must be h
... See more
There's a MTPE chasm between human translation and MT, which some businessmen try to fill in by human-assisted para-translation. Actually, they insist post-editors not only make MT if not comprehensible than more legible for people, but "almost a human translation".

It's like a farmer, who knows that a horse is more expensive than a pig, fastens horse hairs on his pigs and moves them into the stables, proudly announcing: "They look like horses and stay in the barn, so they must be horses!"

Of course, the nature abhors a vacuum and there're always some interim increments, blurring the borders and areas, yet still let's call a spade a spade: without the original MTPE is but a fuzzified transcreation--an essay about some keywords
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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
It is actually worse! Nov 17, 2018

Robert Rietvelt wrote:

.... post-editing is nothing more than proofreading a very bad translated text (= MT translation), to put it simply. I don't have a lot of experience in the matter, but for the few (small) jobs I did, I asked my hourly rate and told the client it would take as long as it would take. It is up to him to accept it or not.


Sloppy human translation may be fraught with inadequate meaning, inconsistent vocabulary, flawed grammar, and misspellings.

On the other hand, MT will look okay to the untrained eye, because its output will often have been taken from existing material; vocabulary will be consistent throughout, usually no typos will be found, and grammar may be weird but correct.

MT output can often be quite puzzling, if the reader doesn't have access to the source text in a language s/he can understand.

For a comparison, many years ago I was a HR manager at a global beverage company in Brazil. When I first visited their distillery, people there explained an interesting thing on the water used for their products. The plant had a top-notch state-of-the-art water treatment unit. They had to choose between buying treated water from the public utility company, which would have to be treated anyway for its specific purpose, and merely pumping it for free from the river that ran beside the plant, and shooting it through the very same treatment. Of course, they chose the latter.

So if some of our clients want top-notch translation (after the top notch water treatment process), why don't they hire top-notch translators to do it from scratch? Using free online MT would be like the client pumping water from the river and bringing it on tanker trucks to the plant.

This is why I think PEMT work should be charged at the "perpetrator's" full translation rate. If the translator likes MT, s/he can shoot the source text through Google Translate on his/her own; no point in having the client do it.


 


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What are the realistic expectations for post-edited work?

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