How Translation Agencies Really Work
Posted by McMahan Parsons on March 26th, 2021The translation/localization market is huge and getting bigger each year. There?s lots of money to be made, and that attracts not only professional providers, but also unscrupulous players that are either outright cheating or just economical with the reality. Buyers get quotes which range from suspiciously rock-bottom to unjustifiably sky-high and don?t know what to think. How can the price for the same task differ so much? Or is someone taking them for a ride? What is translation? Before you understand how much translation costs, you will need to ask yourself a more basic question: what is translation? Everybody thinks they know the answer to this one, but consider it for a minute: Is Google Translate?s output really ?translation?? In case a language student translated something as part of their homework, does it deserve the same name as what professionals do? For better and for worse, there is absolutely no one standard definition and it?s the nature of any creative work that there?ll always be arguments about what?s sufficient and what isn?t. The good news is that there are best practices out there, widely followed throughout the industry apart from some fly-by-night operators, whom I?ll get to later on. The standard process goes something like this: Before translation - Collecting files, deciding what should be translated and what doesn't, piecing together reference materials like translation memories, termbases, style guides and so forth, getting quotes and deciding who will do the work. Translation - That's where the magic happens. A highly educated bilingual professional actually enters what in the new language that reflects the source text in an accurate and maybe even beautiful manner. There are three things that can occur next: - The translator says it?s ready and that?s it, also referred to as ?self-check?; - it?s sent to another linguist who checks the work word-by-word comparing to source, also referred to as ?editing?, which adds 33-40% to the purchase price; - it?s sent to another linguist who checks the target-language version only, also referred to as ?proofreading?, which adds 15-20% to the purchase price. - Finally, normally automated QA checks will be done on the content to consider issues that are an easy task to miss for the human eye, such as double spaces or missing punctuation. These checks could be run by the translator, the editor/proofreader or the agency. After translation ? taking the translation and putting it back into the environment it came from. If it?s a formatted document, such as for example .docx or .pptx files, you need to replace the initial text with the translation and usually make some extra adjustments to layout, line-breaking and fonts to make everything look good. If the text is from software or perhaps a website, things have more complicated and quite a bit of work may be needed to integrate it correctly. If you wish something translated, that can be done it in a few various ways starting with the easiest (and free!) to probably the most sophisticated: Translate it yourself, if you happen to speak the language Use Google Translate or another free online machine translation tool Ask an employee or perhaps a friend to do it for free or cheap Find a freelance translator Upload your files to an online crowdsourced translation marketplace Utilize a different agency (Single Language Vendor - SLV) for every language Use an Multi-Language Vendor (MLV) Build a full-service translation department in your organization (Andovar fits in to the one before last, just in case you?re wondering.) Just how much does translation really cost? Noskaidro tulkošanas cenas, sazinoties ar tulkojumu biroju LK Translation It?s a free market, so people can ask for what they please, depending on how they value their work, what their costs of living are, whether they?re just starting and want to get work experience or they are seasoned professionals busy with long-term clients. But there are established averages when it comes to professional translation and one method of finding them is through Proz.com. This is a huge online marketplace where translators advertise their services and buyers post jobs. Based on what rates a large number of translators have entered within their profiles, Proz publishes a table with averages. You can view the most popular languages below and the full and most recent table here. how-translation-agencies-work-img-1 Remember that they are rates charged by individual translators, and that: Agencies often offer translation + editing or proofreading by another translator, which increases cost. These rates are for what?s called ?new words?, during every project there will also be ?repeated words? which many providers offer at a discounted rate because of translation memory technology. Agencies can do other work in addition to translation itself, such as: create style guides and termbases, localization engineering, DTP, testing, etc. That is sometimes rolled into the per-word rates, sometimes not. Short, urgent and technical or creative texts usually call for higher rates, while simple, long and not urgent ones are cheaper. Agencies are businesses, so that they add a profit percentage to the rates they pay to translators. Keeping in mind the above, the rates charged by individual translators are the foundation which agencies calculate their pricing to get rid of clients. Not absolutely all agencies are alike Some buyers of translation choose to work with freelancers directly. It?s obviously less costly, and can be a good notion for simple jobs in a single or two languages. When projects increase, new languages are added and file formats are not straightforward you may need an agency to help handle all the extra work. Secondly, working with different freelancers and/or online marketplaces constantly means you will see no consistency between projects. Agencies typically maintain reference materials like translation memories, termbases and style guides, which help maintain consistency over time. To be competitive, agencies look for ways to lower their costs and offer cheaper rates to clients. Ideas are sound, others unscrupulous as well as illegal. Let?s look at several: What?s included? While most agencies know that it?s risky to offer translation without any editing, proofreading or quality control, they might still do it to make their rates as low as possible. When you compare rates between agencies, be sure to find out what they include in the per-word rate. Is it translation-only? Translation with editing? With proofreading? What QA steps are followed? Do they charge for localization engineering, file handing, termbases, style sheets, etc. separately? Geo-leveraging It?s not just a secret that costs of living and running a business are lower in some countries. The world has been becoming flat for quite some time and outsourcing or moving offices to less costly regions doesn?t create just as much controversy as it did before. Translation companies do this too. While translators themselves usually live and work in their native countries (see next point), agencies offer localization engineering, desktop publishing, audio recording and project management which can be done cheaper elsewhere. This is among the reasons Andovar has offices in Thailand, India and Colombia. In order to know where your work will in actuality be achieved, ask your vendor. Native speakers Native speakers of - let?s say - Norwegian usually reside in Norway where costs of living are high. This makes it one of the more expensive languages to translate (as you can see in the table higher up). But imagine if we look for speakers of Norwegian in another country? Maybe one with low costs of living, like India or Russia? Bingo ? they will definitely consent to charge lower rates than their friends in snowy Norway! But is Norwegian their mother tongue? And if they're native speakers who eventually live abroad, is their understanding of the language on par with their compatriots in Norway? It is usually, if they made an attempt to stay in touch making use of their native cultures and the way the language is used. (Un)qualified translators Not only is it a native speaker, why is someone qualified to translate? There's actually no easy response to this even though some countries have official certification, translator associations and exams, others don?t and there is absolutely no established international standard. What it means is an agency can call whomever they want a ?qualified translator?, including people who are students, inexperienced rather than native speakers. While the results may be acceptable for simple content, there should be transparency about who'll do the work. Outsourcing Many of the world?s biggest MLVs don?t actually work as simple agents between clients and translators, but add more layers of outsourcing. Once the language pair or subject matter isn't their forte, they hire smaller vendors to accomplish the task. However, with every additional level the chance of miscommunication, delay and end price all increase. Reputation How to proceed if a company insists they only use native-speaking and highly-qualified professionals, nevertheless, you still have doubts? Proz, the web site mentioned earlier, also maintains a database of translation providers along with scores translators provide them with. It?s worth finding out about the company you?re speaking with and see how they fare. If they're not on the list or have minimal scores ? they likely don?t use professional translators or have only recently opened. If the scores are low, it means they don?t treat their translators well. Another website worth checking is GlassDoor, which stores comments from company employees and ex-employees. What?s a PM Fee? Most agencies will charge something called the Project Management or PM Fee. It typically ranges from 1 to 10% of the full total and covers the work of the project manager handling your projects. Taking the PM Fee out from the per-word rate can make it decrease, but PM Fee will still be added down the road. Some agencies will also have Set-up, Kick-off along with other types of fees. When you compare quotes from agencies, make sure you check just how many percent they charge and include that in your comparison. Audio quality Many agencies, and Andovar is one of them, also offer audio services in various languages. Some have their very own recording studios built to industry standard and produce broadcast quality audio, while others ask speakers of the language to record the scripts at home using their own computers as well as mobile phones. Desire to guess which one costs more? And which is of higher quality? Bait and switch Some agencies present great-looking CVs of translators they use and offer their just work at rock-bottom rates. How is that possible? It?s not the same people doing the work! The CVs could be real, but the translation is done by their less-qualified colleagues. The extreme version of the is the following: Do you know what the latest translation agency scam is? It goes like this: Advertise to get the best resumes from linguists. Advertise to get the lowest cost amateur translators at two or three 3 cents. Swap the contact details on the linguists? CVs with newly created Hotmail or Yahoo addresses that visit the scammers. Advertise unbeatable rates of 6-7 cents and show prospective clients the amazing CVs of the nice linguists. Obtain the translation done by the cheap amateur translators. When possible, get advance payment or at least 50% using PayPal. If client complains about quality, use that fact to refuse to pay the amateur translators. Sometimes the scammers even leave the names of the borrowed linguists unchanged. Laugh all the way to the bank. Concentrating on what doesn?t matter Some providers will go at great lengths to make a good impression: They?ll say they use thousands of translators to create themselves appear to be big companies (however they are actually freelancers rather than full-time employees); Make an effort to impress with ISO or other certification (but it?s put on something as meaningless as ?recruitment process? rather than have anything regarding translation quality); Show off their worldwide locations (but they are only virtual offices with no employees on-site); Talk about flawless quality and thousands of satisfied customers (but provide no real testimonials with names and contact details). Business is business? I hope this article explained a few of the tactics translation agencies employ. Business is business so when long as it?s not illegal, an organization can perform whatever it wants. However, as a buyer of translation you need to know who you?re dealing with before hiring a company to work for you
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About the AuthorMcMahan Parsons
Joined: March 26th, 2021
Articles Posted: 2
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