How Much Does Translation Cost?

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The cost of translation has always been a mystery to clients. They often wonder why we cannot quote them over the phone. But for us, seeing the document and understanding the purpose of the translation is necessary. Only then we can provide a fair estimate and delivery time.

Here at Teneo, we pride ourselves on creating specific processes for each customer. In our case, the initial discussion about pricing, subject matter, language pairs, and desired turnaround times, is of utmost importance.

Pricing Translation Services By the Unit

Historically, the model you will encounter most often is pricing by the unit. Here in the U.S., we use a per-word rate. In Europe, you might encounter pricing per standard page or line of text. A standard page has a specific number of words on it.

No matter which unit we use, translation price differs by language pairs. A source word in Spanish costs less than a source word in Zulu. The rarer a language is, the more expensive it will be. The reason simply is that in languages with fewer speakers, there are also fewer educated, experienced translators.

The price per unit of the translation will include the exact workflow of your project. For example, if your document is for information only, the rate might include only translation and no review. If it is a shiny, well-designed marketing document, the rate will include translation, review, and quality assurance steps.

The subject matter of your translation project is important as well. Highly technical documentation may require that specialized linguists undertake the translation, resulting in increased cost.

In addition, there can be additional surcharges such as rush fees, project management fees, or charges for translating text in illustrations. Desktop publishing services to modify the layout of documents to accommodate text expansion, for example, also often come into play.

Your Language Services Provider might be using a CAT (Computer Assisted Translation) tool or a Machine Translation engine. In that case, your quote may also include appropriate discounts for repetitive content.

Such tools leverage already translated content and result in financial savings, faster turnaround times, and greater consistency of terminology.

Pricing Per Translation Project

There are many examples of why the traditional, per unit model just does not work. You will know when it happens – it just feels like forcing a square peg into a round hole. Let’s say you have a steady flow of documents that need to be translated and certified, daily.

In this case, pricing per certified document might be a better fit. The original documents would need to meet certain criteria. For example, they might be of the same type, approximately the same volume/length, and for the same purpose.

Once all the unknowns are out of the way, your translation vendor will want to set up processes. At this point, it is a good idea to include automated workflows. Per-unit quoting for each request would likely be a waste of time. Not to mention that it would not be the best deal for you or the Language Services Provider.

Or, your documents require additional or unusual handling, such as delivery within a specific software program or online tool. Here again, quoting per unit may not do the trick. It will take extra time and perhaps additional expertise to satisfy the requirements of the project. And that is something a simple per word rate would not cover.

Another scenario may be Linguistic Validation. Linguistic validation is a complex process of translating clinical research documentation. It includes steps such as validation of the translation by in-country subject matter experts.

An additional quality check called back-translation is also a favorite, especially in Life Sciences. This means that the translation is translated back into the language of the original. The last step is a reconciliation of both the translated and back-translated versions then follows.

Confused about how translation pricing might work for you? Connect with us here and get a free estimate &  consultation today.

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