The term post-editing (PE) was used for the first time in the 1950s, closely linked to machine translation (MT). One of the first mentions is found in Bar-Hillel (1951: 230) for whom PE is an activity that supports machine translation (MT), and where the post-editor, as the machine's "human companion", shares the translation process.
The term machine translation post-editing (MTPE) is also used as a synonym.
According to ISO18587: 2017, post-editing (PE) is the correction by a professional translator of a "raw" translation previously generated by a machine translation (MT) engine. Originally, authors such as Allen (2001) noted that this process introduced a substantial difference with respect to the revision of human translations, since PE deals with translations that are considered incomplete and need to be improved. In this respect, Allen (2001: 41) specifically indicated that "human translators normally do not produce a partially completed translated text". This distinction between PE (a process always referring to machine translation) and revision is now widely recognised in both academic (do Carmo 2017: 178-181) and professional contexts. In a complementary way, Reifler (1952) refers to PE as the undesirable final step in MT:
It is, however, quite clear that a MT which requires a post-editor to determine all incident meaning in the translation product is very far indeed from the ideal of MT defined above. It leaves the final step in the decoding process, the determination of incident meaning, to a human agent (Reifler 1952: 3)
In both cases, as Vieira (2019: 340) stresses, this use of the term PE belongs to a paradigm in which it is the person who helps the machine and not the other way around. This suggests that the central activity of the translation process belongs to the computer and not to the person.
It is also important to note that post-editing often generates some controversy among those who are reluctant to consider it as a legitimate activity for the translator. In addition, there are a number of other issues related to post-editing, such as the need to define clear criteria for how this task is carried out, or what effort is involved without reducing the final quality of the translated text (O'Brien 2010).
In the following sections, we will see how the term has evolved to accommodate a broader conception of the different activities involved in PE, embracing not only the static editing of the MT output but also the use of MT as an additional source of translations in a computer-assisted translation (CAT) environment (Vieira 2019: 351). In this latter sense, the concept would have a certain "terminological instability" (Vieira, Alonso & Bywood 2019: 4) since, from a taxonomic point of view, the integration of MT (and, therefore, of PE) in the translation process has somehow blurred the lines that determine what belongs to the machine and what belongs to the translator. This is the case, for example, when PE is carried out in environments where translation memories, MT and human translation interact. We will return to this issue later.
|Celia Rico Pérez|
|Rico Pérez, Celia. 2022. "Post-editing" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI.|