The cost of translation services vary and depend on several key questions. And like any other service, people want to know how much translation services cost before getting too deep in the process.
In order to answer how much a service like document translation will cost, your translator will need to know three things:
- What is the industry or subject matter?
- Will people from multiple countries or regions need to read and understand the document?
- What other services will be required?
If you currently have a translation need and want to get a budgetary estimate of how much it will cost, contact us and tell us what you need. We’ll be happy to give you a quote.
If you want to know what goes into the cost of translation, read on.
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To get a better idea of why your translator needs these questions answered, let’s take a look at an example.
Let’s say you have an instructional and safety manual you need translated into Spanish for your manufacturing plant.
What is the Industry?
Proper translation companies will have a team of experienced translators to best handle the type of content needed for your translation. Being able to provide your translator with this information up front, they will be able to get an idea of who on their team needs to be in the project.
That being said, having a true subject matter expert translate your text may cost more per word than having a general purpose translator do the work. Technical translation services rates will be higher than the cost of translating personal documents.
But in the long run, having an industry expert, who is already familiar with the industry jargon, will save you time and money because the translation is more likely to be accurate.
Will People From Multiple Countries or Regions Need to Read and Understand the Document?
If you want to know what do translation services cost for English to Spanish, it’s important to know: where will the translated text be used? And will it be used in one location or more than one?
Here’s why, if your document is being translated for your metal fabrication plant in Mexico, and this is the only plant you have, your language service provider will seek out a translator whose background is in Mexican Spanish.
But if you have another location, say in Costa Rica, that will also be using this document, your document may need to be translated differently. Costa Rican Spanish varies slightly from Mexican Spanish and your translator will need to be familiar with both. In such a case, the best bet might be to go with a form of Latin American Spanish which is understood throughout the Americas.
Did you know there are different dialects of Spanish around the world? How different are they? Find out here: 8 Types Of Spanish—How To Choose For Your Translations
A translation provider can advise you on whether you might be able to go with one Spanish version, for example, or whether you may need more than one, so the document will be clearly understood by everyone who needs to use it.
Just as English is spoken differently in the South than it is in the Upper Midwest, Spanish varies by country and by region. Your document needs to be understood by all groups and a localization expert adapts the translation to that region’s dialect if needed.
Other languages such as French, Arabic, and Chinese also have various dialects so document translation services prices partially depends on what and how many dialects you need to translate into.
A professional translation firm can advise on what dialects are appropriate for your audience as well as if there is a dialect that is considered more standard than others for global use.
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Your manufacturing plant might be located in Mexico, but your workers might originally come from a variety of Spanish-speaking countries. In which case, your Mexican Spanish translated document will be hard to read and understand.
Similar to having multiple locations, if you have a mix of nationalities, your document cannot be localized for one specific group of people.
When translating in this scenario, the right translation team will keep in mind that the terminology to be used cannot be specific to any one country, but must be more widely understood by people who natively speak different varieties of Spanish.
What other services are needed along with translation?
Translation is not simply the process of exchanging words with their dictionary definitions in another language. Sometimes different styles of translation are needed and sometimes different services altogether may be involved with translation.
For example document translation services cost depends on whether the final document needs to be redesigned. And website translation services cost might depend on whether the website is ready to be translated or whether it will need to be prepared for true internationalization.
Translation service prices may depend on whether the following styles of translation are required or what of the following services are needed:
- Poetic or literary translations: Sometimes what you need is not just word for word translation but the creation of true art in another language that is based upon the original art. Beowulf has been translated dozens of times, and each time the linguist is attempting to capture the beauty that the original audience would have appreciated more than a thousand years ago.
- Transcreation: Again sometimes, especially with marketing materials, the translation cannot be simply a rewording of the original in a new language. Sometimes the cultural or legal landscape requires that the original be reworked in profound ways. It’s not merely a translation anymore. It’s a new work based upon the original.
- Machine Translation: In this case, if you use customized machine translation, it has the potential of drastically lowering the cost of translation. Customized machine translation can have a better quality than Google Translate and cost much less than human translation.
- OCR: Sometimes all you have are photographs of the original documents. If you merely need to translate a birth certificate, this is not a problem, but if you need to translate a doctoral thesis that numbers in hundreds of pages, it’s essential to have that text in an editable format, such as .doc. If all you have is a couple hundred page PDF, or worse, photographs, OCR (optical character recognition) may be necessary.
- Voice acting: If you need a movie translated, you may also need a voice actor to narrate the translated movie.
- Desktop Publishing: If your translated text needs to be beautified in the target language, then desktop publishing, also called DTP, may be required.
- Localization: Properly translating (or localizing) a software system or website may call for extra steps than a typical brochure or legal document would require. For a detailed explanation of localization, see our article How to Build a Multilingual Website [Complete Guide].
- International SEO: You may need multilingual SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services to make sure that your translated web content uses the right words to be seen by web surfers.
So clearly, various types of translation and various additional services can raise or lower the cost of translation.
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The Final Cost of Translation Services
Like many customized services, there are multiple factors which go into determining the exact costs for a translation. However, if you can provide the answers to those three important questions when you ask for a quote, your language service provider will be better able to accurately give you a quote. If you have a translation project you’re ready to get a quote on, share your details with us today.