When requesting a translation quote the result can be a total mindfield. Translation quotes can be quoted per word, per hour, per character, per page, rates differ from language to language and translation company to translation company, some companies use translation memories and within this we get differing metrics for matching and repetitions, some rates include revision by a third party, rates differ from subject matter to subject mater while some companies charge project management fees. The list goes on and on and can often leave the client in a very confusing predicament. However in this article we hope to clarify some of the issues of translation quotes especially in the area of translation metrics.
Requesting a quote
The standard measurement of translation cost is by word or translation rate per word. This has many advantages in that it`s easy to measure and suits most world languages with the exception of some of the Asian languages. A translation quote per page is very unreliable as the word count per page differs depending on size of page, font size, graphics etc… A translation quote per hour also tends to be unreliable as some translators tend to be faster than others and a metric based on words has to be established to plan the work anyway. Also, both quotes per page and per hour do not fit into the analytical reports of translation memory tools. Most reports are based on raw analysis and manipulation of word counts. If a translation quote is based on time there is a huge and unnecessary degree of trust placed on the sub-contractor. In some cases a translation quote will be based on the character count. This is a reliable method to quote on translations however, leads to more complications due to higher character counts and more complicated calculations. In some cases, especially in the case of Asian languages it is more logical to base the quote on the character counts due to the nature of some of the Asian languages.
So far so good, we have reached our first concrete decision, the measurement value of our translation quote will be in words or in the case of Asian languages, characters. We now have to request an itemized quote from the translation services companies based on the word counts. After doing this we notice that some documents are translated at a higher rate than others. A general rule of thumb is that specialized fields such as legal, medical and technical tend to be 20% more expensive than general and business fields.
How so, you may ask and the answer is that there are fewer suitably qualified translators for the subject matter which tends to drive translation prices up. Other factors that contribute to a higher translation rate per word are as follows:
· Unusual language combinations with few translators
· Language combinations where the pool of translators have high living costs
· Highly specialized subject matter
Great! so we can now compare the word count and the rate from translation agency to translation agency but we then start to notice that some translation agencies are offering lesser rates for previously translated text or repeated text, while the rate for untranslated text may be slightly higher. These translation agencies are offering Translation memory services which stores previously translated text. It may be a first job with the agency so there is no previously translated text however there may be what we call in the industry repeated text which only needs to be translated once. This type of text may be offered to the client at say 30% of the normal rate. Translation Memory systems complicate the translation process and require investment on the part of the agency but they ensure consistency and cut costs in the long run. This is why translation services companies offering these services often have higher rates but in the long term the investment in higher rates is worth it
Here is a summary of the key decisions we have to decide on when analyzing translation quotes:
1. Translation Quote measurement (Words)
2. Understanding differing word counts
3. Understanding translation rates and why
- Degree of difficulty and expertise
- Language combination
Hopefully this article helps you to facilitate the translation quote process. Remember to ask the translation agencies to provide their quote in the same format. Ask them for a quotation per word with each document/text itemized. This will ensure you get an easy to compare breakdown of rates and word counts which should help the decision process easier! Happy outsourcing!