How Translation Agencies Really Work
Posted by McMahan Parsons on March 26th, 2021The translation/localization market is huge and getting bigger every year. There?s a lot of money to be made, and that attracts not only professional providers, but additionally unscrupulous players who are either outright cheating or just economical with the reality. Buyers get quotes ranging from suspiciously rock-bottom to unjustifiably sky-high and don?t know what to think. How can the purchase 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 have to ask yourself a far more basic question: what is translation? Everybody thinks they know the solution 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? Noskaidro tulkošanas cenas, sazinoties ar tulkojumu biroju LK Translation For better and for worse, there is absolutely no one standard definition and it?s the type 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 through the entire 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 needs to be translated and what doesn't, piecing together reference materials like translation memories, termbases, style guides and so on, getting quotes and deciding who will do the work. Translation - This is where the magic happens. A highly educated bilingual professional actually enters what in the new language that reflects the foundation text in an accurate and perhaps even beautiful manner. There are three things that can occur next: - The translator says it?s ready and that?s it, often known 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, generally known as ?proofreading?, which adds 15-20% to the price. - Finally, generally automated QA checks will be done on the content to consider issues that are easy to miss for the eye, such as double spaces or missing punctuation. These checks can be run by the translator, the editor/proofreader or the agency. After translation ? taking the translation and putting it back to the environment it originated from. If it?s a formatted document, such as for example .docx or .pptx files, you must replace the original text with the translation and usually make some extra adjustments to layout, line-breaking and fonts to create it all look good. If the written text is from software or perhaps a website, things get more complicated and quite a bit of work may be had a need to integrate it correctly. If you would like something translated, that you can do it in a few various ways starting with the easiest (and free!) to probably the most sophisticated: Translate it yourself, if however you speak the language Use Google Translate or another free online machine translation tool Ask an employee or perhaps a friend to do it free of charge or cheap Find a freelance translator Upload your files to an online crowdsourced translation marketplace Utilize a different agency (Single Language Vendor - SLV) for each language Use an Multi-Language Vendor (MLV) Create a full-service translation department in your company (Andovar fits into the one before last, in the event you?re wondering.) Just how much does translation really cost? It?s a free of charge 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 need to get work experience or they're seasoned professionals busy with long-term clients. But you can find established averages in terms of professional translation and one way of finding them is through Proz.com. It is just a huge online marketplace where translators advertise their services and buyers post jobs. Based on what rates thousands of translators have entered in their profiles, Proz publishes a table with averages. You can view the most used 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 thanks to translation memory technology. Agencies can do other work along with translation itself, such as: create style guides and termbases, localization engineering, DTP, testing, etc. This is sometimes rolled in to the per-word rates, sometimes not. Short, urgent and technical or creative texts usually demand higher rates, while simple, long and not urgent ones are cheaper. Agencies are businesses, so they add a profit margin to the rates they pay to translators. Keeping in mind the aforementioned, the rates charged by individual translators will be the foundation on which agencies calculate their pricing to get rid of clients. Not absolutely all agencies are alike Some buyers of translation elect to use 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 of the extra work. Secondly, working with different freelancers and/or online marketplaces at all times means you will see no consistency between projects. Agencies typically maintain reference materials like translation memories, termbases and style guides, that assist maintain consistency over time. To be competitive, agencies look for methods to lower their costs and provide cheaper rates to clients. Some ideas are sound, others unscrupulous and even illegal. Let?s look at a few: What?s included? While most agencies know that it?s risky to offer translation without the editing, proofreading or quality control, they could still do it in order to make their rates as low as possible. When you compare rates between agencies, ensure that you find out what they use 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 expensive regions doesn?t create just as much controversy as it did before. Translation companies do that too. While translators themselves usually live and work within their native countries (see next point), agencies offer localization engineering, desktop publishing, audio recording and project management which may be done cheaper elsewhere. This is one of the reasons Andovar has offices in Thailand, India and Colombia. To be able 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 helps it be one of the more expensive languages to translate (as you can see in the table higher up). But imagine if we search for speakers of Norwegian in another country? Maybe one with low costs of living, like India or Russia? Bingo ? they'll definitely consent to charge lower rates than their friends in snowy Norway! But is Norwegian their mother tongue? And when they're native speakers who happen to live abroad, is their knowledge of the language on par with their compatriots in Norway? It is usually, if they made an attempt to stay in touch with their native cultures and the way the language is used. (Un)qualified translators Not only is it a native speaker, what makes someone qualified to translate? There is actually no easy response to this even though some countries have official certification, translator associations and exams, others don?t and there is no established international standard. What this means is an agency can call whomever they want a ?qualified translator?, including those who are students, inexperienced and not native speakers. As the results could be acceptable for simple content, there should be transparency about who will do the work. Outsourcing A lot of the world?s biggest MLVs don?t actually work as simple agents between clients and translators, but add more layers of outsourcing. When the language pair or subject matter is not their forte, they hire smaller vendors to accomplish the task. However, with every additional level the risk of miscommunication, delay and end price all increase. Reputation What to do if an agency 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 alongside scores translators provide them with. It?s worth looking up the company you?re talking to and observe how they fare. If they are 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 work. Taking the PM Fee out from the per-word rate will make it go down, but PM Fee will still be added down the road. Some agencies may also have Set-up, Kick-off and other types of fees. When you compare quotes from agencies, make sure to check how many percent they charge you need to include that in your comparison. Audio quality Many agencies, and Andovar is one of these, also offer audio services in different languages. Some have their very own recording studios created to industry standard and produce broadcast quality audio, while some ask speakers of the language to record the scripts in the home using their own computers or even mobile phones. Desire to guess which 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 similar people doing the work! The CVs could be real, but the translation is done by their less-qualified colleagues. The extreme version of this 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 2 or 3 3 cents. Swap the contact information 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. If possible, get advance payment or at the very least 50% using PayPal. If client complains about quality, use that fact to won't pay the amateur translators. Sometimes the scammers even leave the names of the borrowed linguists unchanged. Laugh all the way to the bank. Focusing on what doesn?t matter Some providers will go at great lengths to produce a good impression: They?ll say they work with thousands of translators to make themselves appear to be big companies (but they are actually freelancers and not full-time employees); Try to impress with ISO or other certification (nonetheless it?s put on something as meaningless as ?recruitment process? and not have anything regarding translation quality); Showcase their worldwide locations (but they are only virtual offices with no employees on-site); Discuss 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 number 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 should know who you?re dealing with before hiring an agency to work for you
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About the AuthorMcMahan Parsons
Joined: March 26th, 2021
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