Automation in German <-> English translation
Frequently Asked Questions

1. Machine Translation (MT)

Is MT the same as TM? No. MT (machine translation) and TM (translation memory) are both technologies that are applied to automate translation, but they are quite different. TM is a store of previous translations which enables reuse of an identical source language sentence. On the other hand, MT systems can translate sentences or phrases which they have never encountered.
To some extent the two can be complementary. Verbalis only provide MT, but work with TM extensively, for example as inputs to the system. We have extensive experience of optimising the application of our technology in translation workflow which is based on translation memory.

Will MT replace human translators Definitely not! For most translation situations humans will always be best, as their creativity and understanding of context will always be required. MT is a powerful tool for those situations in which humans may no longer prevail, owing, for example, to lack of specific domain knowledge or technical language. In a wide variety of other situations MT provides assistance to translators, but their input is vital in both operating the MT system and in setting up the linguistic resources. As such MT simply helps the translator to be more productive.

What is pre-editing? Often it is worth editing the input text before MT to ensure that it can be translated. Various issues can be addressed, such as: orthographical and grammatical errors, unusual abbreviation.

What is post-editing? The editing of the translated text after MT is complete. This might include translation of any segments of the source text that could not be translated owing to insufficiency of domain coverage.

2. Verbalis' Technology

How does the Verbalis technology differ in use from that available from other MT suppliers? The Verbalis system has been specifically designed to provide output which a professional translator can quickly edit into a final high quality translation. If there are individual segments for which the system has insufficient domain coverage, it highlights them rather than guessing at a target language result, as would befit MT systems for non-translators. The Verbalis system requires appropriate linguistic resources to be constructed for the specific domain. The high-quality delivered means that the translator has much less work to complete the translation from Verbalis output than if starting from the initial text.

Why can't I just put any text through your machine translation system? Terminology and idiomatic language tend to be specific to a particular domain or company. Verbalis achieve high quality results by the use of an example database and analogical reasoning tool, which are both domain specific.

Would the use of controlled language help? Probably, but it is by no means essential. The Verbalis machine translation software can deal with any well written text. But controlled language should help, as long as it is consistently applied.

Will it be obvious that the text has been translated by a computer? Not unless you want it to be! It is always possible to 'improve' a translation, but this can be as true of human translations as of Verbalis output. With minimal pre-editing or post-editing, the results will appear of human origin.

Obviously the big attractions of MT are reduced cost and speed. Are there any other advantages? Yes. One problem with humans is that they can't help being creative, even where it isn't appropriate. In many technical documents, consistency is of paramount importance, but consistency does not always come easily to one human translator, let alone several (as, for example, on high-volume projects). The MT system will be much more consistent. Also a human translates in the region of 3,000 words per day, so a large number are needed for a large project and it is difficult to keep the style consistent. In situations where specialist knowledge is needed, it can be hard to find enough translators with sufficient domain knowledge to translate accurately.

3. Verbalis' Services

Where do Verbalis offer services? Verbalis operate globally. As assignments are usually received and returned from clients via the Internet we can deliver our services to clients anywhere in the World. It is easy to arrange payment in major world currencies.

What texts are most suitable for translation by Verbalis? While any texts can be translated, it is typically those that are technical that are most suitable. This could include various documents such as: technical instructions, specifications, development information, operating manuals, data sheets, etc. Such documents should need less pre- and post-editing and will therefore be translated more quickly and at less cost than by alternative services.

What is the volume point at which the Verbalis approach becomes more economical than human translation? This depends on many factors, but in general below 50,000 words we would not adapt a database, so would need to do more pre- or post-editing. In some cases below this volume we have a suitable general database, which will mean that we can still offer a very competitive quote. In cases where translation assignments run to more than 100,000 words, extensive adaptation will usually be worthwhile.

Is there a minimum assignment size? No. We will look at any assignment and use our approach to speed delivery and ensure high quality results, with any additional human input as required. We are happy to quote on any size of project.

Is post-editing essential? Not always! Depending on the purpose of the translated document, simply using the version produced by the Verbalis MT system may be appropriate. This applies in particular to documents that will only be used within an organisation. In this case there could be further cost savings.

Why don't Verbalis offer a free online service? Because it doesn't show what we do best! Our tool is designed for use by professional translators, rather than for gist translation for the monolingual. Also there are already a wide number of useful services freely available on the Internet which are very suitable for general use by non-linguists.

What limits are there in the quality of input text that Verbalis can handle? It should be grammatically correct with no mis-spelt words. It is hard to translate the meaning of a text if it is unclear or obscured by poor grammar or spelling. Verbalis can detect where the input text is unclear and pre-edit it before machine translation or refer back to customer as appropriate.

What do Verbalis need other that the text to be translated? Ideally some existing resources, such as: terminology for domain or organisation, existing translations of similar documents, any other localisation information.
What if I don't have any of these resources? Verbalis can use a standard database and do any necessary research. The database can then be adapted as projects are completed.

How much does it cost per word/line/page? Much depends on the answers to the previous questions. Typically, to provide a quote all we need is to see the documents to be translated (or at least representative samples) and to hear what existing resources are available.

I'm interested, but I need to translate to or from a language other than German. When will this be possible? Our software is modular in structure, which facilitates extension to other languages. We plan to add further language pairs in the future. The particular languages chosen will depend on customer demand. Please contact to discuss.

I'm interested, but I'm not really after the current Verbalis services. Can I buy a product from Verbalis? We would be interested in talking to you! There are various possibilities including setting up a server or providing a customised service to your translators via a hosted service. Please contact to discuss.

 Verbalis Ltd, Scotland, UK