The Cost Of Document Translation Services

How much importance should be placed on the cost of translating your important documents?

Several factors will influence the cost for document translation services and a trustworthy translation services provider will never cut corners on quality and accuracy in order to win a bidding process against its competitors – simply because quality cannot be produced and delivered for bread crumbs – unless, of course, the individual or entity requesting a translation project does not care about quality, correct interpretation, and accuracy.

Let’s first address the various factors to affect translation services pricing and then we can compare the “good trustworthy” translation services provider vs. the “let’s make a quick profit” type translation services provider.

Translation Services Cost Factor #1: Language Pairs

Language pairs will be the first and most obvious factor. This is true all across the language translation service industry. Latin languages such as Spanish, French and Italian are typically less expensive than Asian languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese.

Translation Services Cost Factor #2: Subject Matter

How complex or technical is the content of the materials to be translated will play an important role in translation service costs. A general business letter will likely cost less to translate than a scientific research paper. The two most obvious reasons for the cost difference rest with the level of education and expertise the translator must possess – meaning a non-accredited translator with basic knowledge of the source and target languages may translate a general business letter adequately – while a certified/professional translator with the applicable scientific background will be needed to translate the scientific research paper. Obviously, a certified translator with a science background will be compensated at a higher rate than a non-accredited translator with a basic education level. The other obvious reason for the cost difference for translating a general business letter vs. a scientific research paper is the time required to perform the translation. Needless to say, the more complex the content and subject matter, the more research and critical attention will be required to complete the translation correctly and accurately.

Translation Services Cost Factor #3: Quantity

The total number of words contained in the source material and documentation will directly influence the cost. Most translation providers price their translation services on a per-word basis. Some base their prices on the number of source words while others (the vast majority) base pricing on the target/final word count. One can expect a minimum fee for small documents containing less than 500 words and one can also expect a volume discount for large projects.

Translation Services Cost Factor #4: Deadlines

Standard turnaround time, Rush and Rush/Critical requests, will likely affect the overall cost of a translation services project. Will the rush request force the translation team to work overtime? Will it force the translation team to work during the weekend or on a holiday? Will the translation services provider be forced to add more translators to the project in order to meet the client’s critical deadline? Overtime, weekends, holidays and an increase in the number of translators required to perform and complete a translation project “correctly” and “on time” will inevitably add to the overall cost. If a translation service provider does not increase the cost for rush projects – you can certainly expect the translation work to be incomplete and/or filled with inaccuracies… Now consider the added costs and time delays that will be required to make it right!

Translation Services Cost Factor #5: Quality and Clarity

One of the most frustrating issues that a professional translator will face is being asked to provide accurate translation work when given unclear third-generation fax copies of the source document. A translator’s responsibility is to translate what can be read and recognized clearly not speculating on what word(s) were supposed to be on the page. Unclear materials will result in the translation service team having to conduct research and endless back-and-forth communication with the client to discuss the missing or unclear portions of the document. Most professional translation service companies will refuse the assignment if the source material is unclear or illegible. Others will translate what can be translated and fill the unclear portions with [illegible] notations and leave it to the client to make sense of the actual content.

Translation Services Cost Factor #6: Formatting Requirements

Will the translation assignment require additional production work such as formatting, desktop publishing, graphics, formulas, tables and publishing the translated work using a non-universal software program requiring special skills? In such cases, the translation service agency may likely tag on additional charges (per hour usually) for the additional formatting and DTP work required to complete the project.

The above translation services cost factors are presented here as the most obvious and primary factors influencing the cost of a translation project. Naturally, each case has its own differences and particularities and as such, other factors may influence the cost of a translation project. But one aspect that has often resulted in increased and unexpected additional expenses for a translation project is when a translation client falls for the “let’s make a quick profit” type translation provider. This type of translation service provider hires and assigns translation work to non-accredited, inexperienced translators and they often use software translation tools to expedite the process and produces a translated document filled with inaccuracies and linguistic mistakes. These mistakes and inaccuracies may not be found until it’s too late and the client faces professional embarrassment and potentially costly legal fallouts. To make things right, the client is now forced to have the work performed again – this time, hopefully, using a “good and trustworthy” translation services provider.

Low-cost translation services, more often than not, generate a series of complications and eventually turn to higher-than-needed translation cost. Would you trust a non-accredited inexperienced surgeon offering low-cost services to perform a critical surgery for you or a member of your family? Do not yield to the temptation of cheap and fast document translations whether for legal, financial, scientific, technical, governmental or other professional work. Sure, you can use free online translation devices or translation software to save a few pennies. Or, press your translation company for a 24-hour turnaround. Just remember that the least expensive and fastest document translations usually mean huge problems later.

You can trust Legal Translation Solutions and its parent company, ASTA-USA Translation Services, Inc., to provide you with translation quality and accuracy on a timely basis all at very competitive prices.

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