How Translation Agencies Really Work

Posted by Short Owens on March 27th, 2021

The translation/localization market is huge and getting bigger every year. There?s big money to be produced, and that attracts not only professional providers, but also unscrupulous players who are either outright cheating or simply economical with the truth. Buyers get quotes ranging from suspiciously rock-bottom to unjustifiably sky-high and don?t know very well what to think. How can the purchase 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 need to ask yourself a far 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?? If a language student translated something as part of their homework, does it deserve exactly the same name as what professionals do? For better and for worse, there is 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 guidelines 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 has to be translated and what doesn't, putting 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 the words in the brand new language that reflects the source text in an accurate and perhaps even beautiful manner. There are three things that can happen next: - The translator says it?s ready and that?s it, generally known as ?self-check?; - it?s sent to a different linguist who checks the task word-by-word comparing to source, often known as ?editing?, which adds 33-40% to the 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 price. - Finally, in many instances automated QA checks will be done on the content to look for 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 to the environment it came from. If it?s a formatted document, such as for example .docx or .pptx files, you should replace the initial 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 wish something translated, you can do it in a few different ways starting with the easiest (and free!) to 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 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 organization (Andovar fits into the one before last, just in case you?re wondering.) Just how much does translation really cost? It?s a free market, so people can ask for what they please, based on how they value their work, what their costs of living are, if 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 with regards 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. Predicated 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 these 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?, while in every project there may also be ?repeated words? which many providers offer at a discounted rate because of translation memory technology. Tulkojumi 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 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 above, the rates charged by individual translators will be the foundation which agencies calculate their pricing to get rid of clients. Not 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 one or two languages. When projects increase, new languages are added and file formats are not 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, that assist 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 and even illegal. Let?s look at several: What?s included? While most agencies understand 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. Could it be 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 reduced some countries. The world has been becoming flat for a long time and outsourcing or moving offices to less expensive regions doesn?t create as much controversy as it did in past times. 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 may be done cheaper elsewhere. That is one of the reasons Andovar has offices in Thailand, India and Colombia. If you want 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 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 if they're native speakers who happen to live abroad, is their understanding of the language on par with their compatriots in Norway? It can be, if they made an effort to stay in touch making use of their native cultures and how 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 absolutely no established international standard. What this means is an agency can call whomever they want a ?qualified translator?, including people who find themselves students, inexperienced rather than native speakers. While the results could be acceptable for simple content, there must be transparency about who'll do the work. Outsourcing Lots 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 material isn't their forte, they hire smaller vendors to do the work. However, with every additional level the risk of miscommunication, delay and end price all increase. Reputation What to do if a company insists they only use native-speaking and highly-qualified professionals, but you still have doubts? Proz, the website mentioned earlier, also maintains a database of translation providers along with scores translators provide them with. It?s worth looking up the company you?re speaking with and observe how they fare. If they are not on the list or have minimal scores ? they likely don?t work with 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 total and covers the task of the project manager handling your work. Taking the PM Fee from the per-word rate can make it decrease, but PM Fee it's still added down the road. Some agencies may also have Set-up, Kick-off along with other types of fees. When comparing 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 them, also offer audio services in various 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. Desire to guess which costs more? And which 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 the same people carrying it out! 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 such as this: Advertise to get the very best resumes from linguists. Advertise to get the lowest cost amateur translators at 2 or 3 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 good linguists. Get 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 make a good impression: They?ll say they use thousands of translators to make themselves look like big companies (but 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? and not have anything to do with 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 few of the tactics translation agencies employ. Business is business so when long since it?s not illegal, a company can do whatever it wants. However, as a buyer of translation you should know who you?re dealing with before hiring a company 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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