In recent decades the invention of a whole host of new technology has transpired to make the world a much better-connected place. In an instant we can communicate with people thousands of miles away, exposing us to new languages, new cultures and – most exciting from a business perspective – new markets.

To ensure the success of a company’s product or service abroad, organisations are realising the importance of adapting their content to suit the target market. Companies of all sizes and industries are implementing translation or localisation in their marketing strategies, to ensure they are speaking to potential customers in a language they are most comfortable with.

But translation services can be a fairly complex to budget for. This is because translation pricing can be influenced by a range of different factors – the language pairing; the subject matter of the text and the intended audience. So, let’s go through some of these factors and see how each works.

Language pairing

The languages that are chosen for translation can play a big factor on the price, and it’s all because of the resources available.

It’s important to note that when placing a translation project, it’s not enough to enlist a person who simply knows both languages. For best results, a native speaker of the target language should be tasked with the project – ideally someone living in the target country. For example, say we need an English to Japanese translation. The translator ideally should be Japanese, living in Japan, with a thorough understanding of the Japanese language as is spoken in that region today.

Naturally, though, there are greater supplies of translators for some language pairs than others. For some of the world’s most popular languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, etc.) there are considerably more professional translators available than there are for some of the less-widely spoken languages.

Then, it’s a simple case of supply and demand. The less supply there is for a particular language pairing, the higher the cost will become.

A second element to consider with regards to language pair is the cost of living of the target region. For a country like Norway, for instance, the cost of living is higher than in other parts of the world. This tends to mean that the rate will be higher for these languages to offset the cost of living.

One last factor to think about is the writing style of the target language. Most translation companies provide quotes based on a word count rate, but for some languages, particularly Asian dialects like Mandarin, Japanese or Korean, quotes may be provided based on character count. Usually this wouldn’t drastically change the outcome of the quote, but it is something to bear in mind.

Specialisation

Once the language pairs have been decided upon, the next element to consider is the subject matter of the text itself.

Translation companies are tasked with translating an incredible broad range of topics and subject matter. Texts of a pharmaceutical, engineering or legal background can contain such specific and complex wording and terminology that they are almost a language unto themselves.

So, to ensure a seamless and high-quality translation, a linguist with a thorough understanding of both the industry and the language and terminology associated with that industry is advised. Similarly to language pairing, the more niche or obscure the subject matter a text is made up of, the less supply will exist in terms of suitable translators.

If a subject matter is particularly technical, it may be necessary for the translation team to conduct detailed research or to request additional information from the client. This is to familiarise themselves with the topic to ensure a successful translation.

Target Audience

With specialist or niche subject matter in mind, another element to consider is the intended audience and what the text is being used for.

For instance, the translation of a document such as a meeting agenda or a memorandum will have a different process to that of a maximum-exposure marketing campaign. For a multilingual marketing campaign, it is recommended that a team comprised of specialist linguists works on the project to ensure full emotive impact and brand integrity. The same resources may not be required for a memorandum that is needed for understanding only and where the level of quality needed could be achieved by a single professional translator.

Deadline

With any translation project, from the smallest of projects to the multilingual behemoths, deadline plays a crucial role in determining the final cost.

Most linguists translating a text without the benefit of Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools can process anywhere between 2,000 – 3,000 words per day, on average. It is the nature of any business though that some deadlines are tight, and translation projects need a rapid turnaround.

In these situations, a translation company may include an additional fee for prioritising said project and processing it urgently.

Service Made Simple

This guide only serves as a simplistic overview of some of the elements that go into providing a quote for a translation project.

To add to this, each translation company will have their own unique selling points or specialisations that will sway customers to choose them over the competition.

At Wolfestone, for instance, we understand that our clients just want an easy-to-follow pricing structure that’s consistent, competitive and fair. To alleviate any confusion, we’ve created our Five Key Service Levels. Each level encompasses a detailed explanation of the service our clients can expect and allows you to make a more informed, independent decision over the translation process.

Contact us today to learn more about Wolfestone’s pricing structure.

by Geraint Jones

Content Editor and Creator at Wolfestone. Since graduating from Swansea University in 2011 in Applied Linguistics, Geraint Jones has gone on to become experienced in English localisation and proofreading. Geraint has a passion for writing and has recently moved into content creation.

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