THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATION

by | Feb 25, 2020

The world is more connected today than it has ever been before. People and businesses across every industry are widening their horizons and communicating globally. So, it’s not surprising that language services like translation are in high demand, and more relevant than ever. When it comes to professional translation, language doesn’t need to be a barrier for effective communication. Rather, a good translation will convey the message, tone of voice, and meet the stylistic conventions of any industry.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks people face when it comes to professional translation is the price. It’s easy to be put off by the idea that translation is a costly business, so you might delay a translation project or opt for a cost-saving solution. The reality is that translation isn’t as expensive as one might assume – read on to understand more.

Regardless of the cost, professional human translation can be the difference between success and failure in all areas of communication. There is nothing more reassuring than visiting a website that’s been perfectly translated to your language. On the other hand, inaccurate translation leaves a bad impression and can put off potential customers. Worst of all, it misrepresents a business, its voice and values.

Because translation services are highly sought after, there is plenty of competition between service providers. This means that now happens to be a great time to secure a reasonable price for high-quality professional translation.

TRANSLATION COSTS – AN OVERVIEW

Before we jump into the detail, here is an overview of cost-effecting factors when it comes to translation. Please note, this is a general guide only and costs will vary across the industry.

Language pairs Common e.g. English to Spanish

Less common e.g. Russian to Spanish

€0.14 per word (guide)

€0.18-€0.28 per word (guide)

Content Technical, medical or legal

Lifestyle, generic content

Higher cost

Lower cost

Urgency Urgent deadline

No urgent deadline

Rush fees may apply

Normal costs apply

Service provider Established, specialised company

Individual, general translator

Higher cost

Lower cost

Certifications Special certifications required

No certifications required

Higher cost

Lower cost

TRANSLATION RATES & COSTS

Like anything else, when it comes to translation rates, prices vary widely across the industry. Whether you’re looking to translate a document, a script, a book or any other piece of material, every translation service will have its own way of setting prices and there are a number of cost-influencing factors they will take into account. Every project is different, but there are some general guidelines that can help you estimate what costs you might be facing.

 

The way translation is priced differs from project to project. Prices can be worked out per word, per page, per line, per hour, or on the basis of a flat rate. Of all these approaches, translation per source word is by far the most common. The reasons for this are:

  • One page or line can differ from another, in terms of content and number of words
  • The number of hours it takes to translate a document can vary widely depending on the content, and the translator themselves

 

So generally speaking, a translation rate per source word is considered the industry standard: the most straightforward way of calculating the total cost. Still, each project will be looked at individually,

Price Per Source Word

The ‘source language’ is the original language the material is written in, and the ‘target language’ is the language to which it will be translated. So, if you’re looking to translate a document from English to Spanish, the price per word will be calculated from the original English document. This is despite the fact that generally, when English is translated to a Romance language like French, Spanish or Italian, the target word count ends up being about 20%-35% higher than the source word count. In a way, you’re getting more for your money.

When it comes to translation rates per word, prices range from US$0.08 to $0.28 per source word. In Europe, the current average price for translation is about €0.15 per source word. On top of these averages, there are a number of factors that affect the translation rate and service providers will set the cost accordingly. These are the main cost-influencing factors:

  • Language pairs
  • The nature of the content
  • Urgency
  • The service provider
  • Certifications

Language Pairings

Like any goods or services, translation prices depend on supply and demand. Some language combinations like English to Spanish or vice-versa have a large supply of translators across the globe. So this particular language pairing will be relatively inexpensive when compared with a less common pairing. For instance, Russian to Spanish translators are much harder to come by, so you’d expect higher rates for this language pairing. Some Asian and African languages are considered quite obscure, so higher rates would be commonplace. Here are some average rates per word for common language pairings:

  • English to Latin American Spanish: € 0.14
  • English to German, Dutch, French, Italian: € 0.15
  • English to Japanese, Korean: € 0.20 to € 0.30
  • Arabic to English: € 0.16

 

The Nature of the Content

Most subjects require a certain expertise and precision in order to achieve an accurate translation. Medical and scientific documents, technical documents, legal translation and patent translation are all examples of content that require a high level of expertise, as they use specific industry terminology. So translating content like this will have a tendency to cost more.

On the other hand, more generic content like articles, lifestyle content or blogs won’t be subject to specialty fees, because they tend to use more generic language that can be translated in a number of ways without losing the meaning.

Urgency

Have you ever tried to get a quick-turnaround passport or visa, or chosen express shipping when buying an item online? You’ll know that any fast translation service with shortened delivery times costs more, and it’s no different in the translation industry. If you need a faster turnaround than normal, you should expect the company or service to charge a rush fee. Delivery date has an affect on cost and should be kept in mind.

 

The Service Provider

Anyone offering translation services will have their own factors that affect cost: level of expertise, geographical location, and in the case of companies, any overheads. Taking all this into consideration means prices vary across the industry. You may find that a remote, individual Spanish to English translator charges less than an established translation services company. Then again, if you have specialised needs, it would be wise to opt for a company who meets those needs, knowing they might charge slightly more.

EHLION is a respected, well-established language services company that can tailor to a variety of language needs. Get in touch with us today and we’ll be happy to provide a quote.

Certifications

Some translations – like legal documents, birth or marriage certificates, or documents for official use like contracts – require special certification. This means that the service provider issues an officially signed statement that the translation is accurate and meets certain standards. Most language translation service providers will charge an extra fee for this kind of certification.

Certified translations may be necessary for a wide variety of certificates, deeds, legal documents and contracts used in international legal correspondence.

EHLION will provide you with competent and reliable support for all necessary translations:

  • Diplomas and certificates from universities
  • School leaving certificates
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Contracts and agreements
  • Expert reports
  • Judicial documents

KEEPING TRANSLATION COSTS LOW

Whether you’re seeking out professional translation for a personal project or on behalf of a business, you’re probably wondering how you can keep costs down. Here is a list of tips to help you out.

Quality First

The first thing to keep in mind when you’re looking to cut costs is never to do so at the expense of a thorough and professional service. A good reputation is priceless, and risking credibility by having a poor translation is not worth any kind of saving. In fact, it’ll cost you more in the long term. So, while there’s nothing wrong with shopping around for good rates, always keep quality and expertise at the top of your priority list.

Negotiating the Fee

Because translation is in such high demand, if you’re working with a fairly common language pairing like Spanish to English or English to French, you might be able to negotiate the translation price, especially for larger projects.

Returning Customers

Some translation service providers offer discounts for returning customers. If you know you’re going to have additional translation needs in the near future, consider asking your service provider or translator about a special return or bulk rate. If you’re guaranteeing more work for them, they might be happy to meet you somewhere in the middle when it comes to cost.

Editing and Proofreading

If you’re looking for a service that includes translation, editing and proofreading (TEP), this will cost more than just translation – where the translator reviews his or her own work. If you can internalise any editing and proofreading, that will save on external costs. Bear in mind that your needs will vary from one project to another.

Document Format

Every translation service will have a preferred format they work with. If you deliver all source materials in the required format, and receive them back in the provider’s chosen format, this will remove the need for extra resources beyond the translation – like administration and processing fees.

Writing Style

If you’re writing a document you intend to have translated, there are guidelines you can follow to make the text as translatable as possible. This will save on time, cost and possible errors further down the line. Here are some of the major points to keep in mind:

  • Keep sentences brief: If you’re paying per word, less words means less cost. And generally, the more concise the language is, the easier it is to translate with fewer errors.
  • When you can, use Standard English word order: the Standard English grammatical structure will be easier to translate than anything else.
  • Check for errors: Do a thorough proofread before you send a text off for translation. You don’t want to give the translator any extra work, especially if you’re trying to save on costs.
  • Avoid metaphors and expressions: These, along with humour, can be ‘lost in translation’ and cause delays and errors.
  • Use the active voice rather than the passive: e.g. ‘the man poured the tea’ instead of ‘the tea was poured by the man’. Once again, this makes the text easier (and therefore quicker!) to translate to other languages.
  • Keep the word count in check: If your source language is English, remember that the word count jumps up to 35% with Romance target languages. Be conscious of your source word count.

CAT (Computer Aided Translation)

CAT means that a database stores all content ever translated. EHLION works with SDL TRADOS – the market leader in CAT Tool Software, as well as others such as Across Language Server and soon to come MemoQ. Take a manual for example which is translated once from English into Japanese and a year later some parts of the Manual are updated. The CAT tool will be able to detect what has previously been translated and input that content automatically into the target text. The tool will then highlight for the human translator which parts have changed or are completely new. This is not only amazing and great as for the overall quality of translations, but also for consistency. And the best part: You can save up to 40% in translation cost compared to translating without CAT. We are specialized in using CAT and are not only certified but also partner of SDL TRADOS, the market leading CAT software. Contact us today and let us assist you in finding the best options to create these savings of translation costs.

Ultimately, when it comes to keeping costs low, it’s about efficiency – so, removing any costs you have control over – as well as weighing out available options. With all the variety out there, you’re sure to find a service that meets your needs while coming in at a reasonable price.

THE BENEFITS OF PROFESSIONAL TRANSLATION

In the ultra-connected, globalized world we live in, translation is part and parcel of everyday life, especially when it comes to international business. Professional translation services are invaluable to any business that wants to grow and share their message with a wider international audience.

The translation industry has put a lot of emphasis on machine technology in recent years, but it’s still widely acknowledged that technology cannot compete with professional human translators. Human languages are complex, and the meaning of a given word or phrase can vary depending on the context, the purpose, and the target audience. Machine translation can only provide about 75% accuracy at most. Professional human translation is the only guarantee of preserving the true, intended meaning of the original text. The cost of translation is worth it – for a number of reasons.

Setting Yourself Apart

Good translation is one of the first things that distinguishes a company from its competitors, and it goes a long way in buildingtrust with potential customers. Poor translation, on the other hand, can send the wrong message entirely and leave the customer questioning a company’s legitimacy.

Professional translation could be the difference between gaining and losing business, so consider it a small investment with substantial future returns.

Getting the Meaning Across

Cutting corners and going for inadequate translation services on the basis of cost can risk losing the true meaning of the message.

Translating the words themselves is the tip of the iceberg. Professional translation takes it a crucial step further by translating with the target cultural context in mind. For example, if you’re translating from English to Chinese, certain anecdotes might need to be adjusted to suit Chinese culture and identity. While any fluent speaker might be able to translate the words, only professionals will be able to navigate these cross-cultural boundaries.

Expert translators and natives do not just translate words; they conserve the tone of voice that represents your brand – or your voice as an individual.

Technical Accuracy

Like being aware of cultural convention, translation must also be aware of industry convention. If you’re working with any kind of technical material or documentation, hiring a professional translation service ensures that accurate and correct terminology is always used, and that industry standards are upheld. Professional translation is a major step in carving yourself out as a lead in your industry.

Expertise and Experience

Like with any industry, the world of translation boasts a wide range of services across all industries. One thing is for certain: there is no shortage of qualified translators, and the benefits of professional translation far outweigh the costs.

CONCLUSION

In 2020, we travel more then ever, and businesses continue to reach their affairs out to all corners of the globe. The good news is that high quality translation, in virtually any language, has never been more accessible.

Translation costs less than many people might think at an average of €0.15 per word, but there are many factors that can dramatically affect cost. These range from the language pairing, to the technicality of the content, to thedeadline, to the service provider themselves.

There are a number of things that can be done to keep translation costs as low as possible. These include shopping around for translators across the globe, negotiating a return or repetition fee, and writing in a translation-friendly style. Ultimately, though, cost saving should never be prioritised over high quality service.

Professional translation doesn’t just convert words from one language to another; it also preserves nuances of expression and tone of voice. Accurate translation serves the text’s original purpose and builds authenticity from the get-go. It’s a worthwhile investment on many levels. Contact EHLION today for any of your language needs and we’ll be happy to supply a competitive quote for high quality professional translation.

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