Home > Terms > English (EN) > machine translation

machine translation

Machine translation (MT) systems are unlike all of the other tools described in this glossary, because rather than assisting a human translator or other language professional in his or her work, MT systems take charge of the entire process of translating texts. However, this doesn't mean that language professionals have no role to play. When MT systems are used, humans are most often involved in the revision (called post-editing) of the target text produced by the MT system to ensure that it is correct and adequate for its intended use. In some cases, humans may also be able to adjust the way the MT system works (e.g. by adding to or modifying the dictionaries it uses) or by preparing documents in such a way that they can be translated as successfully as possible by the system (called pre-editing). MT systems are most useful when source texts can be carefully prepared to be easily translated by the system (e.g. by clarifying ambiguous expressions, using short sentences), and/or when the target text is intended purely to assist in comprehension (and not, for example, for publication). There are different underlying techniques used by MT systems. Some try to imitate the ways in which humans process language (e.g. using grammar rules), while others operate using statistical probabilities or by taking examples of previously translated text as models. Just as human translators may produce slightly different versions of a target text, so will different MT systems. It is important not to mix up the short form MT for machine translation with TM, which stands for translation memory. You will find tools such as Systran and Reverso installed in the Writing Centre; a number of other systems, such as Babelfish and Google Translate, are also available online for free. (It is important to be particularly cautious when using free online tools, as they obviously do not offer the same kinds of advantages as locally installed tools that can be adapted for use on specific texts!)

Collect to Blossary

Member comments

You have to log in to post to discussions.

Terms in the News

Billy Morgan

Sports; Snowboarding

The British snowboarder Billy Morgan has landed the sport’s first ever 1800 quadruple cork. The rider, who represented Great Britain in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, was in Livigno, Italy, when he achieved the man-oeuvre. It involves flipping four times, while body also spins with five complete rotations on a sideways or downward-facing axis. The trick ...

Marzieh Afkham

Broadcasting & receiving; News

Marzieh Afkham, who is the country’s first foreign ministry spokeswoman, will head a mission in east Asia, the state news agency reported. It is not clear to which country she will be posted as her appointment has yet to be announced officially. Afkham will only be the second female ambassador Iran has had. Under the last shah’s rule, Mehrangiz Dolatshahi, a ...

Weekly Packet

Language; Online services; Slang; Internet

Weekly Packet or "Paquete Semanal" as it is known in Cuba is a term used by Cubans to describe the information that is gathered from the internet outside of Cuba and saved onto hard drives to be transported into Cuba itself. Weekly Packets are then sold to Cuban's without internet access, allowing them to obtain information just days - and sometimes hours - after it ...

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Banking; Investment banking

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is an international financial institution established to address the need in Asia for infrastructure development. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs $800 billion each year for roads, ports, power plants or other infrastructure projects before 2020. Originally proposed by China in 2013, a signing ...


Online services; Internet

Spartan is the codename given to the new Microsoft Windows 10 browser that will replace Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer. The new browser will be built from the ground up and disregard any code from the IE platform. It has a new rendering engine that is built to be compatible with how the web is written today. The name Spartan is named after the ...

Featured Terms

  • 0


  • 95


  • 10


Industry/Domain: Religion Category: Christianity

Germaine Cousin

Saint Germaine Cousin (Germana Cousin, Germaine of Pibrac, Germana) (1579–1601) is a French saint. She was born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a ...

Featured blossaries


Category: Geography   2 17 Terms

International plug types

Category: Technology   2 5 Terms