Short Answer: It Depends

Long Answers to Short Questions About Professional Translation


Often we get asked general questions about translation.

In most cases, the answer will be: it depends.

Still, here are a few longer answers to general questions I encounter on a daily basis.

How much does translation cost?

The cost of translation is generally calculated per word. The price per word depends on the language pair, subject matter, required expertise, deadline and services that you select for that text. If the translation is intended for internal purposes only, you could go for just the simple translation. However, if the text is going to be used in marketing materials, we always recommend going for the TEP process (Translation, Editing, Proofreading).

How long will it take?

For a translation that doesn’t require any specialization, you can normally calculate between 2000-3500 words per day. Documents that require specialized fields or a specific translator might take a little longer, especially if this is your first order. It also helps to send text in editable format as opposed to sending a PDF. You’ll need to add more time for DTP or additional services. In some cases deadlines can be sped up by moving things around. This will require an urgency fee.

While we definitely don’t recommend this for most projects, in some cases we can split the order up for multiple translators to work on simultaneously.

How much time should I, as the client, expect to invest in the translation process?

As a professional translation agency, we’ve seen it all. From marketing documents that seemed to have been written by bots, to complex million-word projects that require a glossary and project plan to be established before we even start to translate.

Ideally, the translation processes in an organization should be managed just like any other organizational process. This means you would give the translation agency information about target audiences, organizational language and culture, information about the tone of voice, etc. In many cases we recommend setting up a glossary in each of the active language pairs. If you have set these up in the past and have been working with a CAT tool already, you’ve already done some of the work.

The bottom line: communication is everything. The more information the translator has about your organization and needs, the better the translation will suit them.

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