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Translation price = quality?

Did you ever wonder about the pricing of translation projects? Why are translation services so expensive? How hard can it be to translate several pages into another language? It's not rocket science. Also, Google Translate is a thing.

First and foremost, we DO NOT use Google Translate for translating in any language pair. Professional translations are done with the help of CAT (Computer-assisted Translation) software. CAT tools, with their translation memories and term bases, shorten and streamline the translation process. Additionally, they facilitate consistency in translations.  Even though machine translation software is getting better, the complexity of certain texts, the variability of terms and key language nuances remain in the human domain. And this is exactly what makes a quality translation.

What is quality?

According to ISO 9000, quality is the “degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.”
Inherent characteristics mean the qualities of products important to buyers, and requirements are expressed, unexpressed or implied needs and expectations of buyers regarding the product.

Unlike the marketing era that featured  “price wars” with the main task of creating a new market for new products, the current period of focus on quality is characterized by a large diversity of products, market saturation and prices on the edge of cost-effectiveness, with quality becoming the most important aspect for customers. There are currently around 400 translation agencies in Croatia. Clients have a wide choice, and considering that almost everything can be done via e-mail, even the location is not an issue. After all, we also work on the global market with clients from various parts of the world.

Difference between price and value

Even though you probably expect for the price of a translation to be similar at every agency, the price difference can sometimes be up to 100%. This is largely affected by the fact that the price of translations at translation agencies that are not in the VAT system can immediately be 25% lower. Furthermore, there are agencies that operate only online and therefore have significantly lower costs compared to traditional agencies. On top of that, there are agencies working for peanuts, that is, offering translations at extremely low prices. Such translations are known in the industry as extremely low-quality translations since they are done by underpaid, underqualified and/or inexperienced translators not taking paying attention to the quality, style and even basic accuracy of translations.

Let's take a simple example (even though, if we would ask a translator, it would be one of the most complicated ones) – translation of menus. Imagine finally getting several vacation days and using your annual leave. You sit down in a gorgeous small Italian restaurant overlooking the sea and start reading the menu. You're craving for something with an appetizing flavor that goes with the local wine.  And you find –gnocchi in angry sauce. Hmm... A translation done for peanuts.

Somebody translated that menu from Italian to English. It doesn't matter whether the job was done by a freelancer or an agency. A little bit of literal translation, a little bit of inexperience/carelessness and the sauce can become angry instead of spicy.

Practice has shown that it is better to ask the client for a description/recipe/photograph of the meal than it is to literally translate a certain meal. Cuisine is a part of the culture of a nation, and often there are no equivalents for certain dishes in another language. But it is the translator's job to invest their time, to research the dish in question, and to find the best solution or to present the meal using a description. And someone who invested time end effort into finding the best possible solution will also want to be paid fairly for their work.

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get,” said investor Warren Buffett. Finally, poor translation services can cost you a lot more than money. Whether it is a translation of a professional paper, brochure, menu, website or advertisement – your communication with consumers shows how much you care about their satisfaction and how much they can rely on you and your product or service.

Translation price does not always reflect the quality, but the level of service must justify the price paid by the client. We all need to stay competitive on the market in order to keep doing business at all. But on the other hand, translators need to set their "value". You would not want somebody to underestimate your work, invested time and effort, right? Translators are the same. Not every translation is equally demanding, but research, knowledge and experience go into every translation, so that the client can get the best possible result in the end. Actually, we can only speak for ourselves here.

What determines the price of a translation?

Specifically, the translation price mostly depends on the quantity of text and the language pair. For example, the translation of a text from Croatian to English will be cheaper than the translation from Croatian to Dutch. Why?

There is a very small number of translators working in the Croatian-Dutch language pair. Their number decreases even more if you consider their reliability. If you entrust your translation to an agency, then that translation agency must vouch for the quality and accuracy of the translation, as well as meeting a deadline. When entrusting your translation to an agency, you should be confident that your translation will be done professionally and to a high standard. That is why the translation price in translation agencies can be somewhat higher than it is with freelancers. At the same time, this gives you some certainty. Working with an agency will ensure consistent terminology and style in your translations since they are likely to use glossaries and translation memories (databases) dedicated to your industry or even custom-made for your company.

Besides, if you don't know the ins and outs of the translation industry, you don't know whether you'll get only a basic translation or an edited/proofread translation. Maybe you need a translation, editing, proofreading and industry-specific revision? To ensure the quality of translations for our clients, every translated document produced by Sinonim undergoes the process of editing and proofreading, as well as quality assurance, regardless of the language in question. Mistakes can happen to everyone. That is why you should do everything you can  to minimize or eliminate them.

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How to choose a good translator?

When selecting a translator or an agency, you should take into account everything offered as part of that service, the time required for translating the text, the reliability of the translator and his or her expertise. The translator's job requires learning and improvement on a daily basis. That is the person/agency you entrust with your work, documents, financial reports... Find someone to build a partnership with and help you achieve your goals. At the end of the day, this is what we do at Sinonim. We look forward to every new success story to which we have contributed.

For any additional questions and information, feel free to contact us at info@sinonim.hr.

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