How Much Does Translation Really Cost?

Translation, like every service sold, has specific pricing. You have probably heard about cost per word, hourly rates, or payment per page as options to pay for a translation service. Here is a brief guide on translation industry rates and what goes into them.

 

Main elements of the translation price

If you are looking for the best price for your translation project, you need a trusted translation partner with a transparent pricing policy.

The total cost of translation includes four main elements:

  1. Price per word

Two main factors affect translation price per word– the difficulty of the translation and the language combination. General topics are easier to translate than highly specialized topics. For example, medical documents tend to cost more because they require translators and editors with medical expertise. Additionally, some languages are cheaper or more expensive to translate than others. Languages that are rare and do not have so many professionals working with them tend to be pricier. Examples of highly-priced languages include Norwegian, Dutch, and Japanese.

  1. Project fees

Successful translation cooperation is determined by the project manager working with your company. Project analysis and preparation is the initial part that optimizes the overall project. Here the language service provider (LSP) organizes the document flow and determines any repetitive content to ease the work of the translators. The project manager takes care of all the communication between the parties thus ensuring a smooth process.

  1. Quality assurance

Each translation project undergoes a thorough review before it is submitted to the client. Every LSP has an established quality assurance process that guarantees the accuracy and consistency of any project. The quality of your translation project depends on the mastery of the dialect and terminology your assigned translator has.

  1. Translation options

The translation mode chosen greatly affects the total project cost. The following are translation modes from least to most expensive:

  1. Machine translation
  2. Machine translation with a human translator’s edits
  3. Human translator
  4. Two human translators (one who translates and one who edits)

 

What does video translation cost involve?

Video translation is a more specific niche and its cost is determined by the following:

  • The length of the video for translation
  • The number of words spoken per minute
  • The type of video translation involved: subtitling, voice-over, or dubbing
  • Initial transcription – that is typing the text of the video before translating it. This can be done manually or via automated speech recognition tools
  • Which languages need translating

The number of voice-over artists needed in the project also determines the price. It is cheaper to use narration, where only one person is talking, compared to dubbing, where you have a list of dubbing actors recreating the audio content in the target language.

 

5 ways to reduce your translation cost

If your translation project quote is over your budget, there are a few ways to reduce costs.

  • Partner with an LSP that offers Translation Memory (TM) and constantly updates it. TM is often considered a form of CAT tool. It is a database that stores previously translated content such as phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs. It enables translators to pull out already translated segments from the memory of this database and use them in the new projects of your company, saving time and money.
  • Write with translation in mind. When you are writing the content that will be translated, avoid jargon, use consistent terminology, and provide references to make the translation process easier. A well-written text takes less time and effort to translate, thus saving you money.
  • Start with translating 1 or 2 languages. Starting small with just translating a few languages at a time will reduce your cost. Begin with the languages that target a large audience and are popular for translation (whenever possible), then add additional languages as you find a need.
  • Don’t opt for the lowest price. Cheap translation costs should be a red flag for you. A lower price may mean that the translation is partially or entirely machine-translated, that the translator has limited experience in the industry you need, or that not all the translation processes are included (such as proofreading, for example).

Lastly, always take time to choose a high-quality language service provider for your translation project and ask what their service and cost cover.

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