How much does translation cost?

If you’ve never used a translation agency before, it can be difficult to tell whether or not you’re getting a good deal:

Many businesses may use different pricing schemes. Translators from different countries might not use the same base-unit for calculating costs. If your translator is in a country with a weaker currency than the one you’re in, will they be a better choice because of it? Will the complexity of the document or the file format affect the price?

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to how much translation services cost!

The first major piece of advice, of course, is to compare like with like. If one agency prices by the word and one charges by hour… obviously you’re not getting an accurate price comparison.

That’s why it’s so important to get a better understanding of translation pricing and make a well-documented and balanced decision.

Here are four things to bear in mind when hiring a Language Service Provider (LSP):

1) What unit does the translation agency base its price on?

This is where the importance of like to like comparison comes in. For example:

In the UK, translation agencies usually charge per source word, or per source character for character-based languages such as Korean. In Germany, agencies tend to charge per line. Others will charge per target word.

Some languages, such as Thai, don’t have spaces between words, and an accurate source word count of a scanned document may only be achievable by someone who speaks the language, so a price per target word may be more transparent.

Make sure that you know on what basis you’re being charged for the work you need done.

2) What’s included in the price?

Your translation company will only include certain items and processes in your service. The exact details will depend on the experience and capacity of your provider and the service you choose. It’s absolutely critical that you understand exactly what you’re really getting for your money.

For instance, does your language service include:

1. All translation steps – TEP (translation, editing, proofreading) represents the minimum you should be looking for if you need publication quality, though many companies offer T+P, T-only, E+P, E- or P-only – this may explain variation in pricing.
2. Quality Assurance – your service may or may not include vital QA processes.
3. CAT tools, Translation Memory, glossary creation, research of terminology – these highly useful tools and processes are used by many of the best translation agencies.
4. Rounds of amendments – if your project needs amending, will your service provider cover this? Or will there be an extra charge?
5. Project management – your service may or may not include a project management fee in addition to what you’re paying for the core services.

3) Different languages have different rates

Why is Japanese-German more expensive than Chinese-English?

There are many factors. Most commonly of course, supply and demand:

The supply of experienced or specialist translators will vary from one language and one country to another, and from one industry sector to another. With China having such a large population and English being so widely spoken as a second language it’s no surprise there’s a large supply for English to Chinese translation, for example.

On the other hand, options are rather more limited for a pair such as Hungarian to Mongolian.

It’s probably reasonable then to expect that the former language pairing will be less expensive than the latter. Although not many clients need Hungarian to Mongolian, not many people are in a position to provide it either.

The cost of living in the target language country also has a significant impact on the cost of translation. Some Asian and Eastern European languages thus tend to be available at lower rates than Nordic languages.

4) Additional costs

There are various other services which you might want or need, but aren’t likely to be included in your standard package when you ask an LSP for a ‘translation’.

They could include:

For most translation needs – especially in marketing, but for a broad array of other purposes too – proper and effective localisation is well worth the cost.

In short, taking into account the cultural norms, preferences, local units of measurement, colour associations, and a hundred other aspects of a target locale is always going to make your message all the more likely to convert with your target audience.

File type and output
The file type and final output may affect your translation costs as well. If it’s a complex file type such as InDesign or Illustrator which may require typesetting, your LSP will need to add engineering and DTP hours onto your bill.

If voiceover requested, costs for recoding in the target language would need to be added on.

e-Learning can be much more complex than other translation work, and will almost always mean more testing and engineering hours are required.

Factors affecting how much translation services cost

All of the above just goes to show there’s always more than a translation agency’s basic rates to consider when choosing the LSP that’s right for you.

Without fail, always get a written quote – and make sure you understand exactly what your service includes – before you commit to any proposal.

Asian Absolute – get the best value for money on your translation services

There’s one way to be sure you’re getting a fair price on the translation and localisation services you need:

Asian Absolute has provided cost effective professional translators to multinational clients and small business across the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for over sixteen years.

We’re always glad to give you a free quote on your project – and we’ll be happy to discuss any aspect of that quote with you. Contact your local Asian Absolute team today, 24/7.