Determining the objective cost of translation is not the easiest of tasks for a client who is just beginning to analyse this huge market. The key thing is the enormous range of prices (that can vary by a factor of ten!) and the complexity of assessing the quality of the end result, particularly for those clients who are not proficient in the required languages. We will not discuss actual figures in this article - since the rate for translation depends on the language, country, urgency, and complexity of the task, but we will discuss some important aspects, which influence the cost of translation services.
A project completed to a high standard is not just a translation, but is also the work of experienced editors and proofreaders. Undoubtedly, the involvement of these professionals increases the total cost of the order, but at the same time it ensures high quality and reduces the risk of errors or inaccuracies to almost zero.
In addition, once completed the translation incorporates the editing and layout strictly in accordance with the original document: the typography, formatting, headings, and fonts should be maintained in the finished work.
Every one of these stages - translation, correction and editing, and formatting - requires time as well as detailed work by the relevant specialists.
Strictly speaking, even a computer programme can do a translation. The question is what will you get in the end?
Responsible translators never take on every available translation in succession - some specialise in the medical field, some in legal, and some in technical documentation. Literary translators are unlikely to take on the translation of instructions for a healthcare product, and an experienced simultaneous interpreter will, in most cases, refuse to do literary translation.
Therefore, when choosing a translator or contacting an agency, pay attention to the specialists that are taking on your project, and whether they have experience in the relevant field.
Tight deadlines, of course, almost always result in a loss of quality in the translation. An experienced specialist can translate 5-7 pages of text in a day (without accounting for corrections, editing, and formatting). In demanding a great deal of work in a very short timescale, you are pushing the translator to use automated programs whilst reducing the time for proofreading and editing of the text, which leads to errors and inaccuracies in the final document.
As you can see low cost translation, as a rule, is a trap that a customer looking to “economise” risks falling into: this results in lost time and stress due to poor quality, and then having to pay again - for a re-translation completed by reliable translators.
by Oxana Weimer, Baden-Baden
on behalf of Elena Sander
Lingua Office Übersetzungsagentur, Karlsruhe