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The Cost of Translation

Translation — Value vs. Cost

The first question all clients ask when they need a professional translation is “How much will it cost?”. This is obviously an important question, but one which becomes more nuanced when we start considering the objectives, and value, of any translation.

Basically, there are two approaches to translation in business: that translation is a commodity, or that it’s a service.

Translation is a Commodity

Those who believe that translation is a commodity think there is such a thing as a ‘standard’ translation of a given text. Therefore, all translations are equal, and the only differentiating factor is price. Consequently — just as with raw materials or low added-value products which can be easily substituted — if they find a new supplier who is cheaper, they give them the contract. Otherwise, they won’t. And that’s just the way it goes.

Translation is a Service

On the other hand, those who think that translation is a service will consider other factors, such as quality and speed (or flexibility, at least) and will expect something more than just a low price. They will look for value, which although it may have a higher price, may ultimately, cost less!

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get”

— Warren Buffet

Our philosophy

At Quicksilver Translate, we firmly believe that translation is a service. And we define Good Service — in the context of translation for business — as:

  • Delivering on-time.
    Agreeing to a time-frame, and sticking to it. Nothing is more annoying than not receiving a document, however small, in time for a meeting, presentation, or other deadline.
  • Having a linguistic expert available for quick consultation.
    Being able to call or email your supplier to make sure a particular term has not been misspelt or misunderstood, is possibly the most confidence-inspiring bit of added value in the translation industry.
  • Reacting quickly to all linguistic needs.
    Successful business today is often a measured by efficiency. You don’t want this next week, you need it today! Meeting expectations requires a professionalism and level of experience which only a quality translator or LSP will guarantee.
  • Being able to obtain related services.
    Will your supplier convert to/from Powerpoint?
    Will they translate non-editable captions from photographs?
    Consider document layout: will they make spacing adjustments to accommodate a higher word count? And do they use professional graphic designers for this?
    Will they deliver Print-Ready files, and coordinate with your printer if necessary?
    Do they offer industry-specialised reviewers and/or editors?

Cost vs. Value

It’s crucial to have confidence in your translation provider — to be absolutely certain not only that there are no spelling or grammatical mistakes, but also that the translated document is totally befitting for your business context, and appropriate for your target audience.

To summarise, if you’re not particularly concerned about the result, just go for price. But if you will have to work with what you get, and defend it in front of your boss or (heaven forbid!) a client; it’s wise to make sure you have chosen a professional, high-quality service, and not just the cheapest around. In the end, a cheap translation may come with a high cost.

Find out more: Our Translation Methodology

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