Machine Translation for Welsh – a new strategy

A revolution is afoot in the translation world. Translators are becoming post-editors as the machine translates the first draft, and a human editor then refines it with post-editing. Only literature and highly sensitive texts will avoid this fate. The trend is being led by the need to translate large volumes of text, quickly and at a reasonable price. The Language Technologies Unit has been preparing for this brave new world by developing Welsh<>English machine translation software, which will soon be made available through the Language Technologies Portal. Using this resource, anyone will be able to do the following:

  • own and support their own Welsh<>English translation system
  • use their own corpus to create and adapt specialized translation machines

Although there are machine translation tools already available for Welsh and English through companies like Google and Microsoft, there are inherent disadvantages in their use. By sharing our machine translation resources, freely and fairly, we hope to provide support to the Welsh translation industry, develop a community of machine translation practitioners, and avoid dependency on large external institutions.

We discussed our ideas on machine translation at the TILT conference in Bangor in June of last year. Here are the slides:


Quality Issues

Translations generated by automatic means are not yet perfect between any language pair.  Laughable or embarrassing mistranslations made by machines have made headline news in the past, and may also lead to miscarriages of justice. This gives organisations trying to save costs by using them a bad reputation. However, machine translation accompanied by human post-editing is acceptable, and can be incorporated within the translation memory workflow. It is your responsibility to ensure that this machine translation software is used in the appropriate manner described here, including appropriate and meaningful post-editing, which avoids tarnishing the image of the translation industry and the Welsh language.

A comprehensive advice note can be found here: