Monday, October 18, 2010

Translation Quotes and the Hidden Costs

Translation Quotes and the Hidden Costs

The world of translation can be quite misleading at the best of times but especially when it comes to the quoting process. The problem with translation quotes is that there is no standard for pricing the work. Some companies quote by line, others by line or character and others by word. Usually, the most reliable form to receive the quote is priced by word. Apart from being the easiest to count, it is the unit used with Translation Memory technology. The following article will help the discerning client to understand the translation quote process and awaken them to the possible hidden costs of translation.

Translation Memories

We mention Translation Memory technology as this has a significant impact on the cost of a translation. A translation memory, or TM, is a database that stores so-called "segments", which can be sentences or sentence-like units (headings, titles or elements in a list), that have been previously translated. A translation-memory system stores the words, phrases and paragraphs that have already been translated and aid human translators. The translation memory stores the source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called “translation units”.

When translating later versions of collateral (software, documentation, multimedia etc.) the previously translated version can be re-cooped from the translation memory to significantly reduce the cost of the translation. In some cases a translation asset can be up to 80% translated already. Some companies do not offer this technology but the ones that do often charge different rates for the words that are 100% matching or already translated. While this is a normal practise, as the 100% matching strings need to be checked in any case, it is wise to be weary of this cost as the rates differ per agency.

Also, some documents like legal documents and software can be very repetitive. In normal practise these repeated words should be charged at the same rate as 100% matching words, however, in a lot of cases the client never sees these benefits.

Other Costs

Some quotes will not contain other costs and the client must ask himself:
• Is the VAT included?
• Does the quote include a project management fee and if not is there one? A lot of translation agencies will charge up to a 10% project management fee.
• Is revision included in the price per word translation rate? A lot of agencies will have a cheaper rate as there is no revision on the translation itself. The client has to ask oneself quality or price is more important.

These are just some of the pitfalls facing the client when requesting the quote. In all cases it is best to send the documents to the clients for quotation and shop around. Ask for the same quote from different translation agencies to draw your own conclusions.
Why not? It’s up to you to get the best value for your own money?
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