Post-editing effort of a novel with statistical and neural machine translation

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    We conduct the first experiment in the literature in which a novel is translated automatically and then post-edited by professional literary translators. Our case study is Warbreaker, a popular fantasy novel originally written in English, which we translate
    into Catalan. We translated one chapter of the novel (over 3,700 words, 330 sentences) with two data-driven approaches to Machine Translation (MT): phrase-based statistical MT (PBMT) and neural MT (NMT). Both systems are tailored to novels; they are trained on over 100 million words of fiction. In the post-editing experiment, six professional translators with previous experience in literary translation translate subsets of this chapter under three alternating conditions: from scratch (the norm in the novel translation industry), post-editing PBMT, and post-editing NMT. We record all the keystrokes, the time taken to translate each sentence, as well as the number of pauses and their duration.
    Based on these measurements, and using mixed-effects models, we study post-editing effort across its three commonly studied dimensions: temporal, technical and cognitive. We observe that both MT approaches result in increases in translation productivity: PBMT by 18%, and NMT by 36%. Post-editing also leads to reductions in the number of keystrokes: by 9% with PBMT, and by 23% with NMT. Finally, regarding cognitive effort, post-editing results in fewer (29 and 42% less with PBMT and NMT, respectively) but longer pauses (14 and 25%).
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number9
    Pages (from-to)1-11
    Number of pages11
    JournalFrontiers in Digital Humanities
    Publication statusPublished - 15-May-2018

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