What Exactly Is Automatic Document Translation? And Can You Get By with It?
There are two types of automatic document translation processes: pure machine translation and automated workflows.

Automatic document translation can refer to automating the translation workflow or strictly using machine translations. Regulatory or legal document translation that requires every single page to be completely accurate may find greater benefit in an automated translation workflow because it utilizes both machine- and human-review.

However, the same level of detail isn’t always necessary. In some cases, a simple machine translation may provide better speed and cost-efficiency. To understand whether you need an automated workflow or a pure machine translation, you need to review the benefits and limitations of both.

How Machine Translation Works in Automatic Document Translation

Automatic machine translation (MT) is a strictly computer-based process where humans do not interact with the content, such as Google’s Neural Machine Translation System or Microsoft’s Translator Hub. Both of these programs use artificial intelligence and natural human language to translate documents in hundreds of languages quickly. It’s a fast, cost-effective way to gain a basic understanding of a document, but that’s where its effectiveness ends.

You need to take any machine translated document with a grain of salt. The system itself may be intelligent, but it’s not a human; it’s incapable of understanding context. With no human review, these documents may be translated to say phrases that are nonsensical or even racist or sexist.

A good use case for machine translation is in legal document translation during the discovery phase when a lawyer may receive thousands of pages of documents but not know which ones are important. Machine translation allows the attorney to filter those documents and weed out the most pertinent pages for translation.

It may also be suitable for instances where you have content on a website that’s important to have but is rarely read, such as technical documentation pages.

In either scenario, it’s crucial to have a clear disclaimer at the beginning of the content that acknowledges it was machine-translated; it can help limit any misconceptions about the documents and the brand they represent.

We also highly encourage the use of a feedback channel so readers have the option to ask for a full translation of specific documents. This allows you to precisely gauge how valuable each piece of content is and re-prioritize the items that readers often request. Once this process is complete, you can move the most prioritized documents to the next stage in document translation automation: the automated workflow.

Taking Automatic Document Translation to the Next Level

Machine translation is only a small tool in the overall automated workflow system. With a localization management platform, the content gets an additional human-performed review that ensures the accuracy and clarity of content. The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. The material is uploaded for translation.
  2. Artificial intelligence routes that content to an expert translator with the specific technical and/or linguistic experience needed to complete the job.
  3. As they translate, strings and suggestions appear based on the company’s corporate lexicon, translation memories, and various term bases. This ensures consistency across all content.
  4. The content moves through to a reviewer who evaluates its accuracy, makes changes, and adds those edits to the centralized source of truth for future reference.
  5. The content is then stored inside the platform for future translation streamlining.

All in all, automation takes the place of time-consuming manual administrative work. This process is especially useful in document translations since many documents are built off of templates that share the same clauses and sections. Using finalized documents already in the system, the automated localization workflow performs much of the job for the translator by making suggestions based on the previously approved translation matches. This process increases the accuracy of machine translation while simultaneously decreasing costs and completion timeframes.

Another benefit comes in the security of completing all tasks in a single system. In many translation jobs, documents fly back and forth through emails, company databases, and workflows. This creates potential security holes since the material is most vulnerable in transit. By translating all documents in a single centralized space, all file movement is contained and controlled, leading to greater security.

Which Type of Automatic Document Translation Do You Need?

Automatic document translation can refer to two different processes. Machine translation allows you to take advantage of technology’s ease to yield basic, limited results. Not every document requires a sophisticated and entirely accurate translation, and machine translation is well-suited for those scenarios. For higher-stakes materials where clarity and accuracy are necessary, however, workflow automation can help to streamline this task while ensuring content quality and consistency.

Bureau Works allows you to take advantage of both types of automatic document translation to yield fast, accurate, and cost-effective results. Contact our team to discover the benefits of automated translation.

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