What is Machine Translation?

The translation of text by a computer, with no human involvement

Increase productivity and translate faster

Using machine translation as part of the SDL Trados Studio environment, you can translate more content and deliver it faster than before.

SDL Trados Studio software includes support for several machine translation engines.

What is machine translation?

The translation of text by a computer, with no human involvement. Pioneered in the 1950s, machine translation can also be referred to as automated translation, automatic or instant translation.

What machine translation capabilities does SDL provide?

SDL now offers state-of-the-art neural machine translation capabilities from SDL Machine Translation, using revolutionary technology for high quality output. Originally built for enterprises looking to support content-intensive business processes, SDL Machine Translation is now also integrated within SDL Trados Studio.

How does machine translation work?

There are three types of machine translation system: rules-based, statistical and neural:

  • Rules-based systems use a combination of language and grammar rules plus dictionaries for common words. Specialist dictionaries are created to focus on certain industries or disciplines. Rules-based systems typically deliver consistent translations with accurate terminology when trained with specialist dictionaries.
  • Statistical systems have no knowledge of language rules. Instead they "learn" to translate by analysing large amounts of data for each language pair. They can be trained for specific industries or disciplines using additional data relevant to the sector needed. Typically statistical systems deliver more fluent-sounding but less consistent translations.
  • Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is a new approach, now used by SDL Machine Translation, that makes machines learn to translate through one large neural network (multiple processing devices modeled on the brain). The approach has become increasingly popular amongst MT researchers and developers, as trained NMT systems have begun to show better translation performance in many language pairs compared to the phrase-based statistical approach.

When would I use machine translation?

When translating with SDL Trados Studio, any segments not leveraged from translation memory can automatically be machine translated for a translator to review, then accept and amend if necessary, or decide to manually translate instead. A translator can configure which machine translation to use and how much is used.

Respecting client confidentiality

If the projects you work on are commercially sensitive, your customer may require that information is not disclosed to any third parties.  Carefully consider how and when to use machine translation as you could be sharing segments of the source with a third party.

Audit files are automatically generated by SDL Trados Studio which record the use of machine translation.

How will I benefit from working with SDL Machine Translation?

Whether you are a freelance translator, LSP or corporation, working with SDL Machine Translation will help increase translation productivity and allow you to take on larger volumes of work. With SDL Machine Translation neural engines, machine translation output is more fluent and significantly higher quality, reducing the amount of post-editing work required.

How can I start using SDL Machine Translation in SDL Trados Studio?

To activate SDL Machine Translation's NMT 2.0 (neural machine translation) in SDL Trados Studio 2019, follow the following steps:

In the Translation Memory and Automated Translation dialog, add the SDL Language Cloud translation provider to your project. To do this, select Use… and then select SDL Language Cloud from the drop-down list. In the SDL Language Cloud dialog, select SDL Machine Translation. Select a Generic – NMT translation model for the language pairs you would like to use.


For Studio 2017 and Studio 2015 users to access SDL Machine Translation's NMT 2.0, you will firstly need to download the SDL Machine Translation Cloud app from the SDL AppStore.


Is SDL Machine Translation free to use?

SDL Trados Studio users can access SDL Machine Translation for free with a monthly allowance of 500,000 characters per account. 

If you require a larger package with a higher volume of characters per month, it is possible to upgrade to a paid plan. To hear about our flexible machine translation packages, get in touch with your local SDL sales representative.

Access secure neural machine translation in SDL Trados Studio with SDL Machine Translation