COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the world. Both private and public sectors are forced to make significant budget revisions in response to recent drops in revenue and the changing needs of the people they serve. Having a limited budget doesn’t mean you can’t communicate effectively with immigrant and LEP communities.

Many organizations may be tempted to turn to machine translation due to budget cuts, which may compromise the quality of their translation projects. In our blog dated Jan 9, 2020, we highlighted “The Many Ways Human Translation Benefits Your Organization”.  Through our research, we came across with a study “Analysis of human versus machine translation accuracy” completed by Montana Technological University, Butte (Montana Tech)

After many procedures and analysis, Montana Tech concluded: “Machine Translation (MT) is a fast way to obtain a domain-specific translation but is not recommended for literary translation… Based on the results of this study it is clear that human translators, with at least a moderate exposure to a non-native language, are more accurate than translation carried out using freely available MT tools… In the long run, mistranslation produced by machines could continue to be culturally offensive; cause harm in high-risk situations; and negatively affect a company’s brand, reputation, and revenues. The results of this research strongly indicate that international companies should adopt human translation resources as opposed to relying on cheaper, but considerably less effective and less accurate MT. Additionally, it is recommended that companies employ team translation where more than one person is involved in the translation process, which would further increase the accuracy of translation as a result of involving multiple individuals with variable interpretations of linguistic connotation and cultural meaning.”

human vs. MT accuracy of phrase and sentence translation tests

human vs. Machine Translation accuracy of phrase and sentence translation tests


Difference in translation errors between machines and each of the different human translation groups sampled.

Difference in translation errors between machines and each of the different human translation groups sampled.


Sentence and phrase translation errors across the ten freely available MT tools, and in relation to the average number of errors among the human groups.

Sentence and phrase translation errors across the ten freely available MT tools, and in relation to the average number of errors among the human groups.



What are the alternatives?

Whether you’re working on a large or small project, know your milestones and deadlines. Leverage translation best practices with your LSP. 


Identify your needs and define your scope

Knowing your immediate and future language needs helps your LSP to make necessary accommodations and facilitates planning. It’s of benefit to your organization and your project to determine which content will best reach your target audience. If you don’t know where to start, you can work with your Language Service Provider to help make that determination. 


Gather your brand assets for design purposes

Before starting your project, gather your logo, stock photos, downloads, and any other content that you’ll want to be used for the project. If you have the native, editable files (from InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), those are among the most useful assets to give to your LSP.


Make use of linguistic assets

Translation Memory reuses past translations to increase translation efficiency. When your translation project is completed, the language from the original (or source) document is stored along with the language from its translated counterpart in a secure database. This occurs with every project as you begin to build a translation memory.

Glossaries, another linguistic asset, include a set of key terms and their approved translations. They’re particularly useful for indicating approved translations of industry-specific terms, and terms you want consistently translated across your documents. 

Style guides, the third of these vital tools, inform your LSP and translators about your organization’s look, voice, and general identity. This is also a great place to address practical questions for your translators, such as how to handle translating acronyms and what words should be left in English.

Translation style guides and glossaries are some of the most critical components of your project. They will positively help to increase the consistency of your translated terms across all your material. 


Keep open communication with your LSP

Your needs may change over time: you may need your LSP to add their Desktop Publishing process, a new language, or even a new language service. Be sure to communicate your plans, initiatives, and vision effectively to your LSP. At Avantpage, we create a culture of warmth, belonging, and approach every partnership with Empathy Beyond Words.

Working on your translation projects during and after a pandemic such as COVID-19 needn’t be stressful. Thousands of customers trust us for our language services expertise combined with decades of experience. We have the courage to shape a better future for you and the immigrant communities you serve. Call us at 530-750-2040 or request a free quote today.