Demystifying Translation Agencies: Great, but what’s the price?

Naturally, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a language service provider is the price. However, more often than not, it is also one of the most mysterious aspects of the entire translation business.

Miloš Matović 2015-03-10 Consulting

Demystifying Translation Agencies: Great, but what’s the price?
" Great, but what’s the price?"

Naturally, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a language service provider is the price. However, more often than not, it is also one of the most mysterious aspects of the entire translation business.

What you are paying for is translation and localization which is a service and calculating the service costs are always more complex than paying for goods. It’s always easier to calculate the prices of apples and oranges, but when paying for translation there are numerous factors that affect the price: the scope of the project, the number of words, the time, the special requirements depending on the type of material that is to be translated, the number of professionals involved and so on.

In the penultimate article in our Demystifying Translation Agencies series we present information that may help you understand how translation agencies calculate costs and the factors that affect the price.

Professionalism, quality and excellence never come cheap, but the total price of a bad translation may be even bigger.

  • How do they calculate the costs?

Different language pairs and different materials command different calculation systems. Translation agencies usually try to standardize the rates by calculating the prices on the basis of the number of characters, words, cards, text sheets, lines etc.However, the most widely used standard is the calculation of a price per translated word of the source material.

  • Language size

It comes naturally that more translators worldwide are able to translate between German, Spanish, French and English than between, say, Hebrew, Greek and Bulgarian. Educated translators for the comparatively smaller languages are harder to find and this always affects the translation price.

  • Volume

Simply put, the larger the project the bigger the discount can be counted upon. Per word, paying for a translation of one hundred words may be more expensive per word than paying for the translation of ten thousand words.

  • Complexity

The more complex the project is, the more it will cost. The complexity includes both technical and linguistic aspects, from the software used to the speciality of the material and the special requirements.

  • Timing

The final price may also depend on the time required by the project. In case you need something translated very fast, you may be required to pay an extra charge.

  • Wrap-up

When all is said and done, you get what you pay for. Price is one of the most important factors when starting a translation or localization project, but it should not be the only one. Professionalism, quality and excellence never come cheap, but the total price of a bad translation may be even bigger.