Why Invest in Hybrid Machine Translation Services

Last Updated September 28, 2023

multilingual ai text data

Here’s why hybrid machine translation services are the current language solutions sweet spot.

In the past, we’ve asked readers to pause and ask some questions before they reach a conclusion on machine translation vs human translation.

Have you ever played a piano with just half the keys? Striking the ivory and ebony in harmony produces the beautiful harmony we seek. Leaving half the keyboard untouched would be a missed opportunity, right?

This same logic applies when you’re debating machine translation vs human translation.

Hybrid machine translation refers to an approach that combines multiple MT techniques or systems with human post-editing.

You might also refer to it as Post-Edited Machine Translation (PEMT), Machine Translation Post-Editing (MTPE), or Machine-Aided Translation (MAT).

Whatever you call it, the result is an improvement in translation quality and accuracy, at a lower cost.

Before we get into that, though, let’s talk about the differences between human and machine translation.

What’s the difference between human and machine translation?

Human translation and machine translation are two distinct approaches to converting text or speech from one language into another. Here are the key differences between them:

Translation Process

Human: This involves a human translator who is proficient in both the source and target languages. The translator carefully reads and comprehends the source text and then manually produces a translation in the target language. Human translation relies on linguistic skills, cultural understanding, and context interpretation.

Machine: Machine translation, as the name suggests, uses computer software to automatically translate text from one language to another. It does not involve human intervention during the translation process.


Human: Generally, human translation produces higher-quality translations, especially for complex content. Humans can understand idioms, cultural references, and the context that might be lost on machines. They can also adapt the translation to the target audience and purpose.

Machine: Machine translation quality varies depending on the system and the languages involved. While machine translation has made significant progress and is useful for quick and simple translations, it often struggles with nuances, idiomatic expressions, and context, leading to errors and awkward phrasing in more complex texts.


Human: The speed of human translation depends on the complexity and length of the text, as well as the availability of the translator. It can range from hours to days for longer documents.

Machine: Machine translation is much faster than human translation and can provide instant translations, making it a useful tool for quick communication needs.


Human: Human translators can customize translations to suit specific requirements, target audiences, and industries. They can adapt tone, style, and cultural nuances as needed.

Machine: Machine translation systems is customizable to some extent, but they may not provide the same level of flexibility and customization as human translators.


Human: Human translators can maintain consistency in terminology and style throughout a document or a project, which is crucial for certain types of content.

Machine: Machine translation can be consistent in using terminology but may not always capture the nuances and context required for perfect consistency in all cases.


Human: Human translation can be costly, as it requires the services of a skilled translator, and the cost can increase with the complexity and volume of the text.

Machine: Machine translation is often more cost-effective, especially for large volumes of text, as it eliminates the need for a human translator. However, it may require post-editing by a human to improve the quality.

That last section (cost) is really what it’s all about at the end of the day, right?

If perfection is a must , a professional translator or editor will need to work on your content. Professional, human translation will give you the highest quality work, but it comes at a cost.

If speed of execution is the main factor, MT must be part of the solution. Purely machine-based translation can get the work done at a much lower cost, but you sacrifice quality in the end.

Machine translation with human quality assurance is where you’re likely to find the balance between quality and cost efficiency. A combination of MT plus post-editing and crowdsourcing can help achieve lower price points without sacrificing quality or throughput time.

How Hybrid Machine Translation Services Can Reduce Costs

Hybrid machine translation can help reduce costs in various ways, making it an attractive option for businesses and organizations looking to optimize their translation processes.

Here are some ways in which hybrid MT can contribute to cost savings:

  1. By using machine translation as a starting point, you can significantly reduce the time required for translation projects. Post-editing can be done relatively quick compared to translating the entire text from scratch.
  2. While machine translation systems may have associated costs, they are generally lower than paying a human translator for the entire translation task.
  3. If you have a substantial amount of content to translate, using machine translation with post-editing allows you to scale up your translation efforts without a corresponding increase in costs.
  4. Machine translation provides consistent translations for the same terms and phrases throughout a document or project. Post-editing can ensure that this consistency is maintained while improving the overall quality of the translation.
  5. Post-editing allows for quality control and ensures that the final translation is accurate, contextually appropriate, and free from machine-generated errors. This can be especially valuable for content where precision and accuracy are critical.
  6. Machine translation systems can be customized to include specific terminology, industry jargon, or company-specific language. Post-editing ensures that these customizations are correctly applied, tailoring the translation to your specific needs.
  7. For content that doesn’t require the highest level of quality, such as internal documents or routine communications, post-editing machine translation can be a cost-effective solution. It strikes a balance between quality and cost, making it suitable for a wide range of content types.
  8. In scenarios where speed is crucial, such as customer support responses or real-time communication, machine translation with post-editing allows you to respond rapidly to inquiries in multiple languages without significant delays or costs.

It’s important to note that the extent of cost savings depends on various factors, including the quality of the machine translation system, the complexity of the content, and the skills of the human post-editor.

While post-editing can reduce costs, it may not be suitable for all types of content, particularly for highly specialized or creative materials where human translation expertise is essential.

Therefore, organizations should carefully assess their translation needs and objectives when deciding whether to use post-edited machine translation as a cost-saving strategy.

Let’s Take Your Company Global

Summa Linguae is reinventing multilingual content creation as a market leader for localization and multilingual AI solutions.

Utilizing data, automation, and human expertise, we build language solutions that help you do more for less – realizing cost savings and greater efficiency with the right blend of man and machine.

We’re big on flexibility and offer specialized services to meet your needs and make language easy.

AI steps in for evaluation as a quick step between MT and PE.

This saves both time and money without compromising the quality and your brand.

Contact us today to get started with hybrid machine translation services.

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