Post-Editing – The Gloomy Future of the Translation Industry?

Not everyone may have heard of the term “Post Editing”. Good old Wikipedia defines it as “(…) the process of improving a machine-generated translation with a minimum of manual labour”.

Sounds simple, and harmless, does it not?

Over the past year, I have received an increasing number of job offers for Post Editing. Machine-generated text in need of “spicing up” (or dramatically corrected) by a human being. The quality of those machine translation varies greatly – from surprising accuracy to eye-watering nonsense (especially with a tricky language such as German, where the verb is always at the end of a sentence).

I must admit, Post Editing does have its funny moments, where sentences like “Das Dokument ist im Büro zu übergeben” is machine-translated into “The document will be vomited into the office“, and not, as it should be, “The document shall be submitted in the office”. 🙂

But jokes aside – What are the consequences for us translators of Post Editing jobs? It is an undeniable reality that we, us translators, get paid a lot less: Post Editing jobs do not even come close to the pay of translation jobs (around 60% less). And while you play an important role in ensuring the overall quality of the final translation, I mostly find that those jobs have a sour aftertaste. Are we not accomplices to this development on the market whenever we take a PE job on board? Will this not mean that eventually, all those highly educated, qualified translators around the world will end up having to put the finishing touches on machine-generated translations, or are there any areas where Machine Translation will never achieve what a human translator could?

What are your thoughts and experiences with Post Editing? How do you feel about it?

Have a great week, all of you!



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