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Man v. Machine: Four Factors to Consider in eDiscovery Translation

Feb 16, 2017

Printed documents, video cassettes, CDs and even paper business cards are quickly becoming souvenirs of the past. In today’s digital world, more and more small businesses, corporations and governments are storing their data electronically. In the legal field, this means whole new categories of information to comb through as part of the eDiscovery process. Electronic data can include, but is not limited to: emails, documents, presentations, databases, voicemails, audio and video files, social media and other websites…from various electronic devices, all over the world and in multiple languages.


Identifying and collecting relevant documents during eDiscovery can produce crucial information for your case, but what if it is discovered in a foreign language? In such cases, you will need to consider these four factors to determine how to proceed with your translation needs:


  1. TIME – If you’re working on a deadline with hundreds of documents to translate, machine translation will give you the “gist” of each document, however it is likely this will only highlight which ones need further human review and translation.


  1. COST – Human translation is far more accurate and reliable than machine translation, but costs more and takes longer to produce results than machine translation.


  1. ACCURACY – For technical and legal documents, full human translation will always provide the most accurate results. However, a combination of machine translation followed by human post-editing is usually less expensive and the quality may be sufficient to meet your needs, especially for documents that do not need to be submitted in court.


  1. CONFIDENTIALITY – Human translators sign confidentiality agreements upon hiring, but many machine translation services do not guarantee confidentiality for the data you upload.


Every eDiscovery translation project is unique; you will never find a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s all about striking the right balance between accuracy, cost and speed. Generally speaking, human translation provides the highest level of accuracy and quality but is more expensive and takes longer to produce results than MT or MT with human post-editing. But a combination of human translation with machine translation can produce quality sufficient to meet your needs, especially if time and budget are limited. If you require translation of foreign language documents during eDiscovery, contact Morningside about tailoring a custom solution that takes your budget, timeframe and confidentiality needs into account to produce the best possible results.


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