About Translated’s
Fair Rate Policy

How and why we split the additional profits of working with adaptive machine translation with translators.

Rome – Jun 8, 2023

Translated was founded in 1999 by a linguist and a computer scientist to allow everyone to understand and be understood in their own language. We have always believed that the only way to progress in this mission is by combining the expertise of professional translators with tools that help speed up the translation process and increase translation quality.

This is the reason we created the largest translation memory (MyMemory), the first AI-powered, web-based CAT tool (Matecat), and the world’s best machine translation (ModernMT), and why we provide all of these tools free of charge to freelancers working with us.

In this article, we’ll explain the policy behind our payable rate when working with machine translation (MT), i.e. how we calculate the word count.

The Crucial Role of the Symbiosis Between Translators and MT in a Scenario of Increasing Demand for Translations

The translation industry is a wonderful market with huge, latent demand, supported by constant improvements in MT. Like translation memories (TMs), MT reduces the effort required during translation, allowing translators to manage increasingly large projects. In certain language pairs and specific use cases, ModernMT has either already reached the same level as TMs, or is very close.

By combining professional translators' expertise with MT's speed, Translated has achieved previously unimaginable results.

One such noteworthy collaboration is our work with Airbnb. First, we assembled a team of 1,200 linguists worldwide to localize Airbnb in 33 new languages in just three months. Then, we localized the entire Airbnb platform – listings, reviews, and user-to-user communications – into 64 languages in less than 10 months, leveraging a combination of professional translators and MT. Without this synergy, the project would have required nearly all of the world's professional translators to work exclusively for Airbnb for an entire year. As a result of these projects, Airbnb was named one of the top three best-localized global brands by ‘Global by Design’.

The success stories of Airbnb and others, along with market research, have led us to estimate that once MT reaches what is commonly referred to as ‘parity with human translation’ (singularity in translation), we can expect a 100-fold increase in MT requests alongside a 10-fold growth in demand for professional translations.

These projections stem from research presented in 2022 at the opening keynote at SlatorCon, the leading localization conference, and AMTA in Orlando, the top machine translation summit.

Translated pioneered a symbiotic relationship between translators and MT by inventing adaptive MT back in 2017. Adaptive MT – which is freely available in Matecat via ModernMT to all translators working on Translated’s projects – is a generative AI that learns from corrections in real time and offers increasingly accurate suggestions with each word.

As MT improves, post-editing time decreases, allowing translators to translate more words per hour, thus increasing their earnings.

We’ve been monitoring the time spent editing MT suggestions since 2011 with the idea of adjusting the MT payable rate to ensure that both translators and Translated benefit from the advances introduced by MT, a technology we are collectively refining.

A Fair Rate Deal Between Translators and Translated

We’ve established an approach called Fair Rate which is based on equally splitting the additional profits generated by working with MT with all parties involved.

The deal is simple: we assure a fair arrangement where we decrease the MT payable rate proportional to the improvement in MT quality, ensuring translators’ earnings increase.

For example, Hanna currently translates an average of 600 words per hour from American English to Italian and earns 24 euro per hour. If MT improvements in the near future help her translate 50% more words per hour, she will earn 25% more: in this case, 30 euro for 900 words in an hour of work.

Here’s a projection of translators' hourly earnings from now until 2030 considering a stable per word rate, based on the data we've collected on MT quality improvement since 2011.

Let’s now delve deeper into the reasons behind our payable rates.

How We Calculate The Fair Rate for MT Suggestions

We initially established a metric to assess the cognitive effort required by translators when post-editing a document. This metric, Time To Edit (TTE), indicates the time professional translators need to check and correct MT-suggested translations. It refers to the time needed to edit a single word and is calculated as the total time a translator spends post-editing a text segment divided by the number of words in that segment.

TTE has proven to be the most reliable measure of MT quality, as it is defined by the average time taken to comprehend the meaning of a text segment, reflect upon it, and amend the machine-translated output in a real working scenario.

With this, we’ve established TTE as the parameter to define a fair post-editing payable rate.

To measure TTE accurately, we developed a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool called Matecat, which is free to use and integrates our adaptive machine translation. The project was funded by the European Union and developed in collaboration with Fondazione Bruno Kessler, the University of Edinburgh, and the Université du Maine. In 2014, it was released as open-source software. Eight years later, we were astounded by the results Matecat revealed. The continuous decline in TTE shows a strikingly linear pattern, indicating that the quality of MT is progressively approaching a state where translations are increasingly correct from an accuracy and grammatical point of view.

When we analyze a graph that represents the relationship between TTE data and words per hour processed by translators, we can see that over the years, translators' average speed has increased considerably when working with MT. This improvement has increased translators' per-day capacity, and consequently their earnings, allowing us to adjust the payable rate while ensuring mutual satisfaction.

Fostering Humankind's Evolution Together

In pursuit of our mission to allow everyone to understand and be understood in their own language, we rely on the partnership between the best translators and the best MT. We know that they are better together, but we also truly believe that translators are at the core of our mission. Not only for their expertise, but because creating the best machine translation just isn’t possible without the collaboration of the best translators. They play a crucial role in teaching machines to translate segments and enhancing overall translation quality.

Recognizing the pivotal role of translators in our mission, we developed ModernMT not only to improve MT performance in technical and specialized fields, but to optimize the translation process and redesign the post-editing experience around the translator.

By combining the best translators with the best MT, Translated has reported increased revenues and expanded work prospects in recent years.

We wanted to split the resulting benefit equally to cover MT development costs and reward translators for their valuable contributions.

In doing this, we aim to keep attracting companies with compelling projects like the one we managed for Airbnb.

We believe that sharing the benefits resulting from productivity and quality increases achieved through the use of MT is the best approach to drive advances in machine translation while fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between translators and MT.

We consider this symbiosis between human creativity and artificial intelligence the best way to allow everyone to understand and be understood in their own language.

We are grateful to lead the language industry with the most passionate linguists across the globe. Together, we are laying the foundation for unprecedented collaboration between people, which will help humankind take the next step in its evolution.

We are grateful to lead the language industry with the most passionate linguists across the globe. Together, we are laying the foundation for unprecedented collaboration between people, which will help humankind take the next step in its evolution.
Marco Trombetti – Translated CEO

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