Rates and terms

The price of a translation can often be compared to selling string by the yard. In the interest of predictability, a common practice is to base the price of a translation on the number of words to be translated. The usual way is to count the words in the source text; there may still be valid reasons to bill according to the actual number of words in the finished translation.

The resulting price may be subject to a discount for repeated whole sentences. Modern CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) perform this almost automatically; when the heading "The best bike paths around the Lake District" has been translated in the table of contents, the same translation appears automatically as a proposed translation for the same text as it appears in running text. Just a quick "Enter" will suffice to accept the proposed translation, and a discount of 50 to 100 percent can be expected for this kind of repetitions. If the source text also contains the sentence "The very best bike paths around the Lake District", this will be presented as a 87% match, which means that an 87% corresponding text has been found in the translation memory. A discount of 25 to 50% is common in cases like this, where sometimes more work than inserting the missing word may be required; word order may be subject to change in context.

The word rate that all of this is based on, may (in my case) range from some 14 eurocents for subject matters requiring little other than general knowledge, to twice that and more for texts requiring deep special knowledge, use of customer specific dictionaries, keeping of reference libraries and other complicating aspects. Some providers from exotic countries will offer rates at a fraction of this. You will be better served by Google Translate, which remains free, albeit all but useless when the target is a text for publishing on paper or online.

Quite simply, a detailed and exact price list for translation cannot be made. The above is for your information; remember that you can and should ALWAYS request a free and binding quote for the total price, including all relevant additions, conditions and reservations. This requires that you submit a copy of the text to be translated, together with any reference material or dictionaries you want applied..

If the result, when you receive it, fails to live up to your realistic expectations, there is but one thing to do: Return the crap to its originator. If what you have received is not a translation you can use for its intended purpose, the provider has failed to provide, and should not be paid. The provider may claim the right to a second attempt, and may in that case look a little further up the pay scale among his suppliers.

Finally: If you are a so-called direct customer, intending to use the finished translation product without further checking, proofreading or QA, you have a right to expect a more thorough job from your translator, to reflect the higher price you are probably paying. If you are an agency customer, your rate is likely to be so low that I need to produce volume first, quality second, in order to put food on the table. You are expected to run your own checking, proofreading or QA at your own cost.