Reblog from here.
So you think: “Translating and interpreting is easy, anyone who knows two languages can do it. It should be really cheap, right?” Wrong. Let’s examine in detail what reallydetermines the cost of translating and interpreting.
1. Language Pairs
Knowing two languages does not guarantee that someone can translate or interpret well between them. Translators and interpreters must of course, know both the source and target language (in an expert or native speaker level) but, also the regional variations of both languages. Are the clients Americans in California or British in London? Both speak English but it’s not the same English.
Another factor within language pairs includes the rarity of a language; some languages are more easily available than others. In order for a translator and interpreter to become an expert in his native tongue and also in one or more foreign language they receive formal education.
2. Education & Credentials
Few people take into account the years of study that is required to reach expert or native-speaker level for one or more foreign languages. As with most professions, professional translators and interpreters receive training, certifications and language degrees from colleges, universities or other recognized language programs.
Translators and interpreters join professional organizations, engage in ongoing training and attend seminars. They are constantly learning new terminology, improving their skills, knowledge base and experience.
A formal education is not the only tool a translator or interpreter requires, they also need experience. There are two basic forms of experience, ‘apprenticeship’ and ‘work’ experience.
‘Apprenticeship experience’ is a time devoted to acquiring education, knowledge and working experience in a field that interests the person, for instance, law, finance, technology, industry, medicine, commerce, etc, but does not necessarily directly relate to language. Then later in life, they get certified or complete a postgraduate course in translation or interpretation.
‘Work experience’, is when the person after receiving their language credential(s), volunteers their services, works at an in-house language company, freelances for various language agencies and/or works directly with clients. Both experience types entails a process that takes several years, definitely not an overnight process.
Every translator and interpreter brings with them something priceless and unique: themselves. Each individual presents a vast collection of personal histories, background, culture, education and knowledge. Each individual possesses unique life experiences, job experiences and special skills.
A word to a translator and interpreter is more than just a word; it’s part of a context, it is a number of possibilities, of meanings, of combinations, of experiences and of mental images. Linguists use their vast number of resources, knowledge and experience in order to give the best rendition for every word and phrase, while keeping them in proper context and register.
5. Expertise & Specialization
The list of areas of expertise and specializations is big and each genre has its own sub-genres and those sub-genres and so on.
Each professional translator and interpreter take into account their education, experience and knowledge to focus their services in certain areas of expertise and specializations. For instance, in school they may have studied legal court proceedings, have experience working with lawyers and knowledge of the legal system, so they decide to work in criminal, family and immigration law.
Every linguist must know, understand, memorize and use specialized vocabulary in at least two languages. This is very difficult because the majority of the vocabulary terms are not used in everyday language.
So now we are ready for the good stuff, the actual act of translating and interpreting, or as I like to call it ‘the art of translating and interpreting’.
6. The Art of Translating & Interpreting
Translating. Translators work with the written word.
A translator must be very skilled because a single source text has dozens, hundreds perhaps thousands of possible translations.
Each translation assignment is a long, complex and even profound series of choices which a translator must make; of not just how to render a given word, but most often a phrase or paragraph.
Localization is customizing the translation to a particular market and culture suitable and familiar to the target audience. Once complete, the translation is publish ready.
Interpreting. Interpreters work with the spoken word.
Simultaneous interpreting (interpreting in ‘real time’ whileothers are speaking) is an extremely complex mental task, requiring concentration far beyond what most people usually experience. Just to give you an idea of the difficulty, interpreting has been compared to working as an air traffic controller.
Consecutive interpreting is when the speaker talks clearly and pauses every phrase or so to give the interpreter time to render the interpretation. The interpreter listens to a segment of speech, the speaker stops to allow the interpreter to speak, and so on. Interpreters sometimes take short notes to help recall key words or numbers.
7. Professionalism & Reputation
The best professional translators and interpreters follow, practice and uphold a strict code of ethics. Linguists always strive to convey meaning faithfully, accurately and impartially. They promise to keep and protect privileged and confidential information always. When professionalism is upheld at a constant level the linguist builds a great reputation.
8. Quality & Value
Professional translators and interpreters strive for the best translation or interpretation. A translator and interpreter’s unique choice of words is a result of the all the factors we have examined above.
Quality translations and interpretations come from great professional translators and interpreters who are highly skilled qualified experts. That being said, they are not cheap, common sense, if the price is too low that means you’ll only get inexperience, uneducated and/or a poor translator or interpreter.
9. Operational Costs
As with all businesses there are operational costs. Thefreelance translator and interpreter pay for expenses just like any business, this includes marketing, computers, software, Internet, telephone, office space, supplies, equipment, taxes, insurance, mileage, health insurance and social security etc… If a translator or interpreters works for a language agency, then the agency pays the interpreter or translator a certain amount and keeps the rest.
10. Job Details
Last but not least, the job details. Many of you might have thought this would be the first and only deciding factor to determine language costs but as you have learned, this is actually the last piece of the puzzle. Below are just a few details the interpreter and translator will take into account before considering and quoting a job.
- Will the job be quoted by the word, line, page, hour or project?
- How many words or pages is the document?
- What is the subject matter?
- How much research is required?
- Does the client have any reference materials or existing translations?
- In what format is the document?
- Are there many graphs and/or tables?
- Does the translator need to convert numbers and dates?
- In what format is the translation needed?
- Will the translator need to editor or proofreader?
- What is the deadline?
- Is this a rush job?
- Will the client makes after the translation is finished?
- Is the job in town or out of town?
- How many hours or days will it last?
- Will the interpretation be simultaneous, consecutive or both?
- Will the interpretation be face-to-face, inside a booth, via phone or skype?
- Will equipment be provided or will the interpreter need to lease any equipment?
- How much in driving time, mileage and/or parking fees?
- What is the subject matter?
- Will the interpreter need time to prepare?
- Will the client provide a partner interpreter if it was needed?
- When the client cancels, what is the interpreter’s cancellation fee?
- What is the interpreter’s overtime fee?
- What other expenses will there be, like meals, hotel airfare, transportation, parking etc?
As you can see translating and interpreting are not easy tasks. Excellent and professional translation and interpretation services do not come cheap.
Translation and interpretation, when done correctly, is an art. They require high levels of intellect, experience and skill. Great professional linguists provide you something truly priceless: clear and seemingly effortless communication.
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Wishing you a wonderful day 🙂
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