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– Aaron Alder, CEO of Metafraze

No matter where we’re from, language connects us all. Our level of communication and complexity of language is what makes us distinctly human, and in our age of global connectivity translation services are more important than ever. Whether you’re seeking to reach a greater diversity of clients, better connecting with your employees to create an environment of inclusion, or connecting to other companies in business, translation connects the world. 

All of these goals make translation key to running an effective business. In order to bring value to clients and employees, you have to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. When you’re moving beyond your home turf or building a more inclusive workplace, bringing in a language service provider, or LSP, for translation services is often a necessity. And if you’re new to this area, all of the different options can get overwhelming and confusing. 

With 20+ years of experience in the translation industry I want to make the jump into a new market just a bit easier with a quick run down of the spectrum of different services available through LSPs. Choosing the right option for your needs is a balancing act between quality, price, and the time needed to perform the translation. You need to evaluate which of three translation services will best serve you: full-human translation, machine translations with human post-editing (MTPE), or full machine translation.

Full-Human Translation

Traditionally, translation is provided by an individual with language skills who will go through your document meticulously and transform it from one language to another. This requires more than simple word-to-word matching; a translator will use their creativity and critical thinking skills to convey not only the correct words but also the nuanced meaning behind them. Because of the creative element in this style of translation, it is sometimes called transcreation. A human translator uses their intelligence to pull meanings and switch phrases with the potential for confusion across languages, thus creating a new document that remains true to the original in message.

The sensitivity to nuance and emotion of full-human translation services makes it a suitable choice for customer-facing information. You may want to employ this type of LSP for translating headlines, slogans, and marketing campaigns. When you are trying to hook your customers’ attention, you want it to be because you are giving them great information, not a humorous mistranslation (such as a “Caution! Slippery When Wet” sign being translated into “Attention! Wet Probability”).

Full-human translation is the most expensive translation service and requires the greatest amount of time due to the level of labor involved. Typically a human translator is able to work through about 2500 words per day. However, this method also provides the highest level of quality for those messages that require pitch-perfect accuracy. For companies requiring carefully phrased translations who have the budget and time to use a human translator, this is a very high quality option. 

Machine Translations With Human Post-Editing (MTPE)

MTPE is a great middle-of-the-road option for when you need a high level of accuracy but are not as concerned with sensitivity and creativity. With this service, the words that need to be translated are fed into a computer program that will match words between languages. Because certain words don’t have an exact parallel or may carry multiple meanings, the machine translation is imperfect and may need alterations to communicate your message most effectively. Therefore, following the software translation, a trained human translator will work through the document and edit any errors that misconstrue the intended message. 

This process typically takes about half the amount of time of full-human translation services, because the raw materials are already there for the editor to work through. As a result, MTPE is also more cost-effective, because it requires less human labor. If you need higher quality than a simple machine translation, but are concerned about budget or turnaround time, MTPE is a fantastic option. 

MTPE is a good fit for translated work that shares a moderate to large amount of information, such as blog posts, website content, emails and newsletters, and subtitles or transcripts for audiovisual presentations. It is also effective for sharing research and survey responses. The quality of this machine-translated work with post-editing is almost as high as the level full-human translation provides but in half the time at a lower cost—which makes this a great solution for many businesses trying to balance quality and budget. 

Raw Machine Translation

The fastest, most inexpensive translation option is simple machine-aided translation where words are fed into a software program and given to the client without any additional tweaking or editing. While programs are constantly being improved and made more sophisticated, there will always be some element of meaning lost because certain words do not have a perfect correspondent in another language. 

However, in situations where quick communication is needed to get a main idea across, simple machine translation services are  a valuable resource. It is cost-effective and nearly instantaneous.

This option is advantageous for situations where you need to communicate quickly, such as messaging, forums, help resources, brief emails, and technical or scientific information. Machine translation can also be effective when you have an intermediate working knowledge of a language but lack the skills to perform a full translation yourself. 

Putting Translation Services To Work For You

Want to see what translation services can do for your organization? At Metafraze we’re offering free translation on a marketing piece of your choice up to 1,000 words (a $650 value). We offer translation services in hundreds of languages; simply schedule a call with us at to evaluate your organization’s needs and we’ll get your free translation started. 

We’ve also created a free online translation web app that makes it easy for you to quickly compare pricing and time to translate for each translation method. Create your profile and get started today at

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