So you have checked the prices of multiple translation agencies and you have decided that many of them are asking too much money. After all why should you pay someone to translate your documents when you can have it done for free with a software? However, no matter how advanced the software is, or if you pay for a translator tool, they will never give you an accurate translation. Those tools should be used for your personal use to understand a general concept but they should never be used for a professional document. Every single time, someone uses a software or a free translation service such as Babel Fish; Word Lingo and many others, it translates the wrong word or has many grammatical errors especially when the sentences are complex. But even on simple sentences, the software is still inaccurate and cannot replace a human being. One of our client had his documents translated into French and this is what the computer did: On "The game is free" the software translated the word free to freedom.
He had a "crush" on her through translation became "he crushed her", heart was translated by center, the core values by the "nuts values" and the list goes on and on. Also the verb tenses and the adjectives are rarely coming out the right way. Another client said that he had his website professionally translated. When the translator told the client that it looked like it had been done by a machine because it was full of mistakes and no native speaker could have translated this badly, the client said "Really, how you can tell?" One of our potential client inquired about a quote for his website and told us that a part had be done professionally and needed to stay that way. He just wanted a quote for the new pages for a translation from English to French.
After taking a look, he was informed that his web site was full of errors and that he needed to have it edited first and then the new pages will be translated. He refused to pay even for the editing services. In every other sentences, they were many mistakes such as the adjective had the wrong gender, the verbs were not conjugated correctly, the preposition "at" was translated into the verb "have", many words were missing and so forth and so on.
His site had so many mistakes that it was difficult to read and even take him seriously. Any native speaker or someone with a good grasp of the target language will know that you chose to go through a machine instead of a real translator. This will have a negative effect as the customers of your target country will look at your business and think that if you are not professional on your documents, what else are you not professional about? Once your image has been damaged, it will be very hard for your customers to perceive you as someone competent and it will cost you money and time to change their opinion. If you need your document translated properly, it needs to be done from one language to the target language by a native speaker. So if you want your English document translated into German, you need a German native translator who knows the English language almost perfectly. If your document is for example from Italian to Japanese, you need a native Japanese speaker who knows Italian, etc.
In a lot of countries, an official legal or medical document needs to be done by a sworn translator. This is to ensure your confidentiality and they took an oath to that effect. It does not mean you will get a quality translation, it only means that your information will be kept confidential.
In the USA, there are no rules or regulations governing the translation industry. Quality of the translations, confidentiality, formatting and prices vary from one agency to another. An agency can charge you up to $0.45 per original word depending on the project and the target language, but every cents that you will spend will be well spent as you will get a professional translation. When it comes to translations, you cannot afford to be cheap; you need to plan an appropriate budget. A good rule of thumb is this: if you spent 30 hrs writing your policy manual, it will take 30 hrs minimum to translate your documents.
If your web page has 13,000 descriptions at an average of $0.15 per description, it will cost you $1950. Trying to negotiate a better deal is normal but do not expect to receive, in the case of the descriptions, a quality translation for $450. Be reasonable when you try to get a better rate. If you decide to have a machine translating your business, you still will need to hire a native speaker to proofread the whole document and even though it might be cheaper, on the long run you need to decide if you want to appear professional and attract more business or if you want to lose business opportunities because of a wrong translation!.
About the Author:
M. Blanc with 20 years of experience as a writer and translator owns Hi-DefinitionStudios. She works with the Tectrad group, a company providing high quality professional web site translation and localization services into French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch or English.