Translation Prices: Introduction


There are 3 key factors that determine the total cost of a translation:

  1. Rate per word
  2. Number of words
  3. Number of repetitions

Rates per word depend mostly on:

  • Language pair – the source language and target language.
  • Type of content – the rate is higher in case of specialised translations requiring experienced linguists.
  • Type of context – some types of texts require much more time-consuming work with reference materials.
  • Estimated text volume
  • Quality control level and type of service required (we covered the most popular options described in Translation Process Examples).

The number of words is simply the total number of words to be translated, as indicated by industry software.

To understand the number of repetitions, we must know the definition of segments in translation.

A segment is a sequence of words, e.g. a sentence or paragraph.

Translation software divides texts into segments in order to check (in real time) if the given segment has a translation stored in a database. If there is a relevant translation stored in the database, we have a match (repetition). If there is no previous translation, it’s a new segment.

Language service providers only charge 100% of the rate for new words. Words in repeated segments are only charged a fraction of the rate.

Time for a joke!

A man calls a garage.

Man: My car is broken. How much do you charge for mending it?

Mechanic: It would be best if you could come over so we can see what’s broken.

Man: I said it already. The car is.

Mechanic: OK, but can you bring it over?

Man: Why would I bring it if I don’t know how much you charge?

Mechanic: If you want to know the price, I need to know more about the car.

Man: It’s red.

Mechanic: And about the problem.

Man: It’s broken!

[The mechanic hangs up.]

In linguistic services, providers are the mechanic. All the time. We cannot put a price tag on a text that we know nothing about. We could offer an approximate rate, but that, as you now know, says nothing about the final cost, because it does not count in repetitions.

The best way to calculate the cost of any translation is to send the text to the translation agency. An NDA will protect your content and data.

In the next chapter you will learn more about repetitions.

Types of repetitions in translation >>

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