Business Translation Center

What is the cost of translation?

by OFER TIROSH 28/11/2018

Asking “What is the cost of translation?” is akin to asking how long a piece of string is. There are a number of variables that come into play: whether you use a business translation agency or a freelancer;  which languages you are translating from and to; whether any specialist knowledge is required to undertake the work; and whether you require any additional services like desktop publishing. 

Languages and translation cost

The language in which you created your document (or audio or video file) will be one factor that impacts on the translation cost that you incur. If you created it in a commonly spoken language like English or Spanish, you’re likely to pay less than if you’re starting out with a file in Inupiaq. 

The target language will also impact the price. Again, commonly spoken languages tend to have more translators available, which drives down the cost of the translation. 

Specialist knowledge

Another key factor is the subject matter of your document. It’s easier (and therefore cheaper) to find a translator for a blog post about current affairs than it is to find one who is capable of translating a detailed legal or medical document. Again, it comes down to demand and supply. Most translators would be happy to work on a simply blog post. However, legal translation and medical translation require the translator to have subject-specific expertise, as well as superb language skills. There are therefore fewer of these kinds of translators available – and those who are available will charge a premium for their specialist skills and knowledge. 

Word count

Another element to bear in mind is the word count of your document. Most translation agencies and freelance translators base their prices on the word count. However, different languages use a different number of words to say the same thing. 1,000 words in English equates to around 976 words in Dutch, for example, but to just 771 in Japanese. Translating a document from English to Japanese is therefore much cheaper if you pay based on the word count of the translation, rather than the original. The larger the document, the larger the saving you could make by being careful around which word count you pay for. 

Costing up your time

Of course, as well as the actual translation price, there is a cost attached to how much of your own time you invest in the translation process. Finding the perfect translator or agency and then briefing them takes time. Thankfully, you can save a portion of that time by running your document through our online Text Summarizer Tool, which provides a neat, succinct summary of your document with which to brief your chosen translation professional. 

Reputational cost

Another associated cost is that of your company’s reputation. A poor translation can result in poor sales and reputational damage. A good translation, with expert localization, can result in the opposite. That’s one of the reasons that it’s so important to avoid machine translation when it comes to business documents. The imperfections associated with machine translation mean that it is in appropriate for professional use. 

The main advantage of machine translation – and the reason that so many companies try it out – is that it costs little, if anything. And zero is a number that businesses tend to like when it comes to their expenditure. However, any company worth its salt will steer clear of the shoddy results that machine translation tends to produce. Those who do opt to use it often find it to be a major time drain, as they then have to find a professional translation agency anyway, to provide post editing machine translation services and correct the faulty copy. 

So what should my translation cost? 

With so many variables at play, the only way you can get a true idea of the cost of your translation is to obtain quotes from translation agencies or freelancers. Alternatively, the instant quote function on the Tomedes website can provide you with a price within just a few seconds. Why not check it out now to see what your translation could cost? 

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