Types of Machine Translation | Which is Best?

Types of Machine Translation | Which is Best?

With the growing demand for machine translation services, there are many different types of machine translation.We cover the advantages and disadvantages of each

Posted by Abhi Chatterjee on June 15, 2023

Machine translation is becoming more and more important in today's globalized world. Whether you are an individual or a business, machine translation can help you break down language barriers and reach out to people from different corners of the world. In this Ultimate Guide to Machine Translation Types, we will explore what machine translation is, its beginnings, and how it has evolved over time. We will also dive into the three main types of machine translation: Rule-Based Machine Translation (RBMT), Statistical Machine Translation (SMT), and Neural Machine Translation (NMT). Additionally, we will discuss the difference between automated and machine translation and major providers in the industry. Finally, we will analyze the benefits of machine translation as well as the types of machine translations available along with their respective workflows. Join us on this journey to discover everything you need to know about machine translation!

What is Machine Translation?

Machine Translation refers to using computer software to translate text from one language to another by applying algorithms. It encompasses various types of translations, including rule-based, statistical, and neural machine translation. While it can be helpful for translating large volumes quickly, the accuracy of the translations may vary.

The Beginnings of Machine Translation

Machine Translation has come a long way since the 1950s when researchers first started exploring its usage. The earlier versions of this technology were rule-based and heavily relied on linguistic rules and dictionaries for translating text from one language to another. However, in recent times, Machine Translation has evolved through the usage of Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) using training data, and Neural Machine Translation (NMT), which relies on deep learning algorithms. While MT systems have improved drastically over the years, Human translators are still required for certain tasks due to their superior understanding of grammar and context.

Machine Translation Today

Machine Translation refers to using software for translating text from one language to another. Three types of Machine Translation include Statistical Machine Translation (SMT), Rule-Based Machine Translation (RBMT), and Neural Machine Translation (NMT). While not as accurate as human translations, MT has improved due to technological advancements in natural language processing and artificial intelligence. The output quality depends on various factors like training data, source text quality, language pair involved, and the type of MT system used.

Types of Machine Translation

Translation technology has come a long way since the beginnings of machine translation in the 1950s. Today, there are many types of machine translation systems available, including RBMT, SMT, NMT, and HMT. Each system has its own strengths and weaknesses. RBMT uses predefined linguistic rules to translate text while SMT is based on statistical models that learn from bilingual data. NMT uses deep learning algorithms to understand language patterns, while HMT combines all three approaches for better accuracy.

Rule-Based Machine Translation (RBMT)

RBMT is a machine translation system that applies pre-defined linguistic rules to translate text by analyzing the grammar and syntax of the source language. It can be effective in translating technical documents with predictable language patterns, but struggles with more complex expressions. RBMT is being replaced by modern machine translation systems such as neural machine translation (NMT) or hybrid machine translation (HMT). The choice of MT systems depends on factors such as type of input, language pair, training data, and output quality requirements.

Statistical Machine Translation (SMT)

Statistical Machine Translation (SMT) is one of the types of machine translation which uses statistical models to translate text between different languages. It is highly effective in translating technical or scientific documents, however, it demands significant training data to function optimally and may find difficulty with idiomatic expressions or colloquialisms. By incorporating linguistic rules, we can enhance the performance of SMT. Additionally, by combining it with other machine translation methods such as Neural Machine Translation (NMT), we can significantly improve the accuracy of translations generated through SMT. Overall, SMT is a valuable tool for businesses seeking accurate and efficient translation processes.

Neural Machine Translation (NMT)

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is a modern machine translation technology that utilizes artificial neural networks for translating source texts into target languages. Unlike traditional rule-based or statistical machine translation models, NMT produces high-quality translations by taking into account the entire input sentence instead of breaking it down into smaller parts. The training data for an NMT algorithm must be massive as the network needs lots of examples of different language pairs for learning purposes. However, even with its sophisticated algorithms, NMT might produce inaccurate results due to regional slang or rare terminology.

Automated vs Machine Translation: The Difference Explained

In the world of language processing, there are two primary methods for translating text: automated and machine. While both options have their place, it's important to understand the differences between them before deciding which one to use. Automated translation relies on pre-existing translations to generate results, whereas machine translation leverages algorithmic learning models to produce output. Machine-based solutions tend to be more customizable than their automated counterparts, making them a better fit for projects with specific goals.

Major Machine Translation Providers

Various machine translation providers are available today that offer different types of machine translation systems. Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, DeepL, Amazon Translate, and SDL Machine Translation are some of the major players in the market. These providers use statistical machine translation (SMT), rule-based machine translation (RBMT), or neural machine translation (NMT) with artificial neural networks to translate text from one language to another. The choice of the translator depends on multiple factors such as terminology, training data, workflow, source language and quality level required for usage.

Generic Machine Translation Engines

Translation technology has come a long way since the early days of rule-based machine translation (RBMT). Today, we have modern machine translation systems such as the neural machine translation (NMT) system which uses artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning algorithms to improve its output quality. However, when it comes to handling a wide range of languages and content types, generic machine translation engines are still preferred. They use statistical models and learn from training data to improve their accuracy over time. Some popular options include Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, and DeepL.

Custom Machine Translation Engines

Custom machine translation engines are specifically designed for meeting the requirements of an industry or an organization. They incorporate both machine learning algorithms as well as human expertise to ensure better accuracy while translating specialized terminology. As opposed to generic machine translation systems that handle multiple languages and content types, these systems provide customized solutions for better translation quality. Furthermore, custom machine translation systems have the ability to adapt to changing language usage trends over time by incorporating more training data into their neural networks.

Benefits of Machine Translation

Machine translation offers various advantages such as enhanced speed and volume, more accessible content, superior consistency in translations and customized solutions for specific industries or languages. This technology is also cost-effective compared to employing human translators. Machine translation can even act as a foundation for post-editing by human translators ensuring higher quality output.

Increased Speed and Volume

Advantages of machine translation include increased speed and volume, making it an efficient solution for processing large amounts of text quickly. This technology improves workflow efficiency and productivity while handling multiple languages. With MT's ability to reach a global audience faster, businesses can expand their global presence effectively. Translation technology continues to evolve, incorporating artificial intelligence and natural language processing to improve output quality.

Improved Accessibility

By using machine translation technology, businesses can improve accessibility for people who speak different languages. The system allows quick and accurate translation into multiple languages, which enables businesses to reach a wider audience. Improved communication is another benefit; misunderstandings are reduced while understanding is promoted when machine translation is used. Compared to traditional methods of translation like hiring human translators or relying on human interpreters, machine translation saves time and resources.

Types of Machine Translation: Which One to Choose?

Choosing the right machine translation type depends on the user's objectives. Rules-based machine translation suits technical content, while statistical machine translation works for general language and large data. Neural machine translation provides high accuracy but needs more computing power.

Syntax-Based Machine Translation

Machine translation systems can translate content between different languages, making it accessible to a wider audience. Syntax-Based Machine Translation uses linguistic rules, while Statistical Machine Translation is suitable for large amounts of data. Neural Machine Translation provides accurate translations but requires significant computing power. The right type of machine translation depends on one's specific needs and requirements. Choose from rule-based, statistical or neural network-based systems to improve your translation process.

Example-Based Machine Translation

EMT is one of the most modern machine translation systems available today. It works by using pre-existing translations in a database to generate new translations, making it an algorithm that learns from previous translations and produces high-quality output. While it may not be suitable for all translation processes and language pairs, it can be particularly useful for translating marketing materials and technical documents with complex terminology. EMT represents a step forward in the evolution of machine translation technology and shows how important machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming in the field of translation.

Hybrid Machine Translation

Hybrid machine translation (HMT) combines the advantages of rule-based machine translation (RBMT), statistical machine translation (SMT), and neural machine translation (NMT) approaches to achieve a more accurate and context-specific translation output. By breaking down the source text into smaller segments and selecting the appropriate approach for each based on syntax and context, HMT offers superior results compared to any individual approach. Utilizing all three methods leads to an accurate and comprehensive translation workflow that produces reliable translations consistently.

Workflow of Machine Translation

The workflow of machine translation involves several stages, including pre-processing, language analysis, translation, post-editing, and quality evaluation. During pre-processing, the source text is cleaned and prepared for translation. Language analysis identifies parts of speech and sentence structure. Different types of machine translation techniques such as SMT, RBMT, and NMT are used to convert the source language into the target language during the translation stage. Post-editing corrects any errors made by the machine translation system. Finally, quality evaluation ensures accurate and fluent translations. The usage of these different types of MT systems depends on various factors such as source text complexity, required output quality level, linguistic rules etc.

Post-Editing Stage

To enhance the quality of machine-translated text, human intervention plays a crucial role in the post-editing stage, where linguists review and edit the output generated by machine translation systems to refine its accuracy and fluency. This process can involve light or full post-editing depending on specific needs. By leveraging their expertise in both source and target languages, terminologies, and subject matters, translators improve the output quality through this workflow-enhancing technique.

Automation of Machine Translation

Machine translation has come a long way since the early days of dictionaries and linguistic rules in the 1950s. Today, automation of machine translation involves using different techniques like statistical machine translation (SMT), rule-based (RBMT), neural network (NMT), and hybrid machine translation (HMT) systems. Each type of machine translation has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to translating different languages from source text to target language. SMT relies on large amounts of training data and a statistical model while RBMT employs linguistic rules and HMT combines multiple MT technologies for enhanced accuracy and speed.

AWS and Machine Translation

Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides a variety of types of Machine Translation services, including Amazon Translate and Transcribe. These translate between 71 different languages accurately using Neural MT technology. AWS also offers speech-to-text transcription in multiple languages, utilizing advanced algorithms to reduce manual translation costs for businesses.

Microsoft and Machine Translation

With the help of artificial intelligence and neural networks, Microsoft Translator has improved its accuracy over time. With support for over 60 languages, it offers text and speech translation options while providing a translation API for developers. Companies can save time by using a cost-effective machine translation solution like Microsoft Translator to translate large volumes of content quickly.

Google and Machine Translation

Google Translate is a widely-used machine translation software that employs artificial intelligence and deep learning techniques to translate text from one language to another. It utilizes a combination of rule-based MT and SMT models to produce translations in over 100 different languages. Although the accuracy of its output varies based on the complexity of the source text and other factors like training data or language pairings, Google Translate remains an essential tool for multilingual communication. However, for high-quality or specialized texts, human translators with expertise in terminology and linguistic rules are still needed.

Questioning the Future of Machine Translation

The future of translation technology is a complex topic that requires careful examination. Although there are many different types of machine translation available, such as statistical machine translation (SMT), rule-based machine translation (RBMT), and neural machine translation (NMT), it's important to remember that each has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to output quality, usage, and training data. While MT can be a cost-effective solution for companies needing to translate large volumes of content quickly, it's still unclear whether or not machines will ever truly replace the human brain's ability to understand and translate language nuances accurately.

Can Machine Translation Replace Human Translation?

While machine translation has improved significantly, it still lacks the ability to handle cultural nuances and context that human translators can provide for more complex translations. However, machine translation can assist human translators in working faster and more efficiently. The choice between the two will depend on project needs and desired accuracy levels, but it's unlikely that machines will fully replace humans in translation anytime soon.


In conclusion, machine translation technology has come a long way since its early days. The translation industry today offers numerous types of machine translation, from rule-based to neural machine translation. Choosing the right type of machine translation depends on your specific needs and requirements. However, it's important to remember that while machine translation can help increase speed and accessibility, it's not a replacement for human translation in certain situations. To learn more about the different types of machine translation and their benefits, read our ultimate guide.

Abhi Chatterjee
Abhi Chatterjee

I am a young writer who loves writing about the restaurant industry. I spend a lot of my time researching about how restaurants work and what makes a restaurant successful. I am here to help you to build a succesful food business.

MultiLocale helps you manage translation files of native and web appsmultilocale

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