Today’s post has been inspired by this article, written by Damian Winkowsky. Damian works at a Polish software house DeSmart. DeSmart does a number of things, including UX design, project management and app development.
By now you might be wondering what all of this has to do with translation rates. Well, it turns out that software development companies and freelance translators face at least one common problem: they’re having a hard time trying to get their customers to understand, that what they offer, is not a commodity.
This lack of understanding leads to the situation when the price becomes the most significant factor that influences the choice of a supplier. Such an approach is a sure way to disappointment, either in the price or in the quality of work. Especially, if you’re not an expert in the area (be it app development or translation) and it’s hard for you to realistically estimate the amount of work one has to put in to get the result that you want.
When you pay for app development, you pay for the number of hours that the developers have spent on discussing your ideas, finding out what it is that you really want them to create, thinking of ways to do it and then working their magic to deliver the result.
When you think about it, the app does not exist in the real world. This is not something you could hold in your hand. It’s just the lines of code. However it’s not just that. It’s the experience that you get, when you use the app. It’s something completely intangible, that at the same time has the power to change the way you live.
Translation is similar in many ways. Nowadays lots of translations never make it to the printing press. We localize web-sites, video subtitles, games and apps. No one can touch our words, yet they can touch many lives. Just think about it: a translator has the power to make your product available and attractive for thousands or even millions of new customers.
In my area of specialization no two projects are alike. Even when I do translations for the same client. I’m almost certain that any translator can relate to this.
There’s a number of factors that can influence the price. Here are some examples:
- The number of words
This one is more or less straightforward and easy to explain. The easiest way to assess the volume of work is by finding out the number of words in the source text. It can be done by looking up the statistics, if it’s a simple Word document that you need to translate. Or if the source text is in a more tricky format, it can be uploaded into a CAT tool. In any case, a professional translator won’t be able to give you a price estimate without seeing the text, so you can just send the files over for a quote.
- The amount of research that needs to be done
As I mentioned above, no two translation projects are alike. So even if I’m well familiar with the subject matter of the text, research is still a must. However, the amount of it may vary. Firstly, it depends on the complexity of the source text. Some texts are more general, while others contain plenty of special terms.Secondly, in today’s world things tend to change so quickly, that new concepts come up every now and then. There might be no word for some concepts in the target language. The translator’s task will be to find the best way to describe them or even to create new words for them.
- The peculiarities of the source text
Your text might be an elaborate marketing copy with lots of puns and metaphors, that work brilliantly in your language, but are difficult or sometimes impossible to translate into the target language. Translators have to come up with alternatives, that render your idea just as vividly. Or your text might be a translation from another language and some things got lost along the way. Your translator will have to find out, what it was.
- The number of extra services you might need
Additional proofreading by a second experienced linguist, keyword research, some DTP or even project management — freelance translators might offer all of these services as part of their standard package or as extras. It’s impossible to quote a price for the project without knowing which of these services you might need.
The advice I can give you is this: find a professional that you can trust. And then trust his judgment on how much your project will cost. This is not easy. You might want to read another dozen of posts to figure out how to do it. But I promise, it will be worth the effort.
Photo by Death to The Stock Photo