How Translation Agencies Really Work

Posted by Short Owens on March 27th, 2021

The translation/localization market is huge and getting bigger each year. There?s big money to be made, and that attracts not only professional providers, but also unscrupulous players that are either outright cheating or simply 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 price for exactly 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 must ask yourself a far more basic question: what's 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 within their homework, does it deserve the same name as what professionals do? For better and for worse, there is absolutely no one standard definition also it?s the type of any creative work that there?ll continually be arguments about what?s sufficient and what isn?t. Fortunately that there are best practices out there, widely followed through the entire industry with the exception of 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 must be translated and what doesn't, piecing together reference materials like translation memories, termbases, style guides and so forth, getting quotes and deciding who'll do the work. Translation - This is where the magic happens. An extremely educated bilingual professional actually enters the words 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, also referred to as ?self-check?; Rakstiskie tulkojumi par pieņemamām cenām - 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 price; - it?s sent to a different linguist who checks the target-language version only, also known 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 easy to miss for the human eye, such as for example 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 originated from. If it?s a formatted document, such as .docx or .pptx files, you need to replace the original text with the translation and usually make some extra adjustments to layout, line-breaking and fonts to make it all look good. If the written text is from software or perhaps a website, things get more complicated and a substantial amount of work may be needed to integrate it correctly. If you would like something translated, that you can do it in a few different ways starting with the simplest (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 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 Work with an Multi-Language Vendor (MLV) Build a full-service translation department in your organization (Andovar fits in to 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 when it comes to professional translation and one way of finding them is through This is a huge online marketplace where translators advertise their services and buyers post jobs. Based on what rates thousands of translators have entered within their profiles, Proz publishes a table with averages. You can see the most famous languages below and the entire 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 may also be ?repeated words? which many providers offer at a discounted rate because of translation memory technology. Agencies can do other work along with translation itself, such as for example: 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 call for higher rates, while simple, long rather than urgent ones are cheaper. Agencies are businesses, so they add a profit percentage to the rates they pay to translators. Keeping in mind the aforementioned, the rates charged by individual translators are the foundation on which agencies calculate their pricing to end clients. Not absolutely all agencies are alike Some buyers of translation elect to work with freelancers directly. It?s obviously less expensive, 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 aren't straightforward you may need a company to help handle all the extra work. Secondly, working with different freelancers and/or online marketplaces on a regular basis means there will be 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 search for methods 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? Some agencies know that it?s risky to provide translation without any editing, proofreading or quality control, they might still do it in order to make their rates as low as possible. When comparing rates between agencies, make sure to 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 as much controversy as it did during the past. Translation companies do that 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 that can be done cheaper elsewhere. This is one of the reasons Andovar has offices in Thailand, India and Colombia. If you need to know where your work will in actuality be done, 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 most 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'll definitely consent to charge lower rates than their friends in snowy Norway! But is Norwegian their mother tongue? And when they are native speakers who happen to live abroad, is their knowledge of the language on par making use of 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, why is someone qualified to translate? There is actually no easy answer 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 need a ?qualified translator?, including people who are students, inexperienced and not native speakers. While the results could be acceptable for simple content, there should be transparency about who'll do the work. Outsourcing Most of the world?s biggest MLVs don?t really 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 do the work. 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, but 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 almost no scores ? they likely don?t work with professional translators or have only recently opened. If the scores are low, this 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 total and covers the task 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, ensure that you check how many percent they charge and 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 own recording studios created 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 or even mobile phones. Want to guess which costs more? And which one is of higher quality? Bait and switch Some agencies present great-looking CVs of translators they work with 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 the is the following: Do you know what the latest translation agency scam is? It goes like this: Advertise to get the very 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 go to 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 won't pay the amateur translators. Sometimes the scammers even leave the names of the borrowed linguists unchanged. Laugh completely to the bank. Concentrating on what doesn?t matter Some providers will go at great lengths to create a good impression: They?ll say they use thousands of translators to make themselves appear to be big companies (but they are actually freelancers rather than full-time employees); Try to impress with ISO or other certification (but it?s put on something as meaningless as ?recruitment process? rather than have anything to do with translation quality); Showcase their worldwide locations (however 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 number of the tactics translation agencies employ. Business is business so when long since it?s not illegal, an organization can perform whatever it wants. However, as a buyer of translation you have to know who you?re dealing with before hiring an agency to work for you

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Short Owens

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Short Owens
Joined: March 26th, 2021
Articles Posted: 3

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