Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Understanding Translation Quotes

translation quote
Time and time again clients are left baffled by the translation quote process. The fact that there is no formal method for translation quotes means that quotes can be interpreted in many different ways. A client may think he is choosing the cheapest quote while in fact this may be the opposite.
The following article describes some of the headaches and remedies to confront the quoting process. Normally, someone looking for translation services will shop around and receive at least three quotes. Firstly the needs of the client must be taken into consideration.

Is the client is only looking for a single language to be translated with no additional translation services such as software localization, desk top publishing or software localization?

In this case it is often recommended to go straight to the translator and avoid the middle man, the translation services company, as they of course take a percentage of the translation which in some cases can be up to 50% of the translation quote. This is justified by the additional value they add to a translation.

Does the client need multiple languages translated?

In this case the client may have the in-house resources and knowledge to deal with a multiple translation language project however this is often not the case as a lot of projects tend to be one off or a lot of the multilingual projects require a lot of specific translation expertise and skills which are only available within a translation company. For instance, the use of translation memories, the availability of a large database of specialized translators, Desktop publishing specialists or software localization engineers. For many companies this expertise and resources would be a sizable investment and not worth it in the long run so they tend to outsource their translation needs.
On the plus side a lot of translation tasks are very measurable, for instance word counts to measure the cost of translation, page counts to measure the costs of desktop publishing, string counts to measure the costs of software localization. Even though all these tasks within the translation process are very measurable translation quotes can differ to the extent that clients may even wonder if they are looking at the quote for the same project.
Here are some pointers to bear in mind when requesting a translation quote: With regard to the cost of translation some translation services companies may charge by: • Word count which tends to be the most reliable • Character count which can be especially the case with Asian languages • Page count which can be unreliable as there are often great variations in the number of words per page
Word counts and translation rates can vary greatly too due to the following factors: Some companies use Translation Memory technology. This technology can reduce the word count greatly even with new translations as there may be a lot of repetitions within a file. For instance, in the case of software a lot of the User Interface strings are repeated throughout the software. A lot of companies will offer a discount on these repeated strings or offer the repeated terms at a reduced word count. One thing to bear in mind however is that the cost of translation memory technology will be factored into the translation price. At the beginning the prices may seem a little more expensive but once the translations are in progress and the translation memories of previous work built up, the benefits of reduced word counts and more consistent translations are clearly evident. Paying that little bit extra will increases quality and in the long run reduce cost provided the translation memories are managed correctly. The aforementioned gives an insight as to why some translation prices and word counts can vary from one translation quote to another.

Does the translation quote include revision?

Some translation services companies factor the cost of revision into their translation rate making them more expensive. This has an obvious advantage in that translators are only human and a third eye to revise texts enhances quality. To summarize the use of translation memory technology and revision greatly enhance quality and give us an insight into why translation rates can vary so much between translation services companies. One must also bear in mind that a client can be more focused on cost as opposed to quality as in many cases they will have local offices doing the revisions.

Why do translation rates vary so much from language to language?

There is a simple rule of thumb here in that the rates tend to be reflected by the country of a particular language. For developing countries the local language tends to be translated more cheaply than in developed countries. For instance Chinese translation services tend to be cheaper than German translation services.
To summarize, three main factors that influence the cost of translation are: • Use of translation Memory technology • Language combination being translated • Whether there is revision
So far we have only considered the cost of translation but what about the other translation services: Software localization tends to be charged on an hourly basis but again the hourly rates can vary greatly from one translation Services Company to another. Again a major factor can be the location of the translation services company. For instance a translation vendor in a developing country tends to have much lower hourly software localization rates as opposed a vendor in a developed country where the costs of labor are much more expensive. The same principle also applies to the cost of desktop publishing.
All in all, if you are wondering why one quote is so cheap you have to probe that particular translation services company exactly what their process is, how they manage to cut their costs so much and be sure to ask for references of previous work completed. Picking the best translation quote is definitely a mind field but if all your priorities are clear there is a vendor out there to suit your needs.

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Mark Kieran - CEO - One Stop Shop Translations

Mark Kieran, CEO, One Stop Shop Translations

One Stop Shop Translations is a translation services company based in Madrid, Spain. If you just want to browse over our translation rates, click here or get a great value personalised translation quote here.

Try One Stop Shop Translations for Quality, price and timeliness!
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