“Cheap” Translation Services


It’s no secret that language is the primary communication method that makes the world go around. What happens when we leave language translation solely in the hands of an automated system? Most times, this will generate inaccurate translations due to a lack of understanding cultural context and human emotion. In a previous blog, we discussed the advantages of creating a hybrid model (human translation and machine translation as the translation cyborg of the future). But until that happens, human translation services are the central tools utilized for language translation on a global scale. This blog will specifically focus on “cheap” professional translation services and what can be done simultaneously increase profit and provide top-quality content.

What Does This Look Like?

Most professional translation agencies and language service providers will translate content using per-word rates, per-page rates, or general interpretation. For example, translating a singular word can range from 6-30 cents, or translating an entire document page for a roughly 40 dollars. In the wake of tumbling prices and hopeful attitudes that machine translation will eliminate the need for professional translators, many people expect the price margin for human translation services to steadily decline. However, this is a common misconception since technology is costly. Even if human translators were replaced with machines, it would cost just as much money to produce an automated translation system. Considering both systems will roughly cost the same, human translation services are the better option because they possess greater advantages.

Moreover, there is a fine line between providing quality assured content for fair pricing and standardized quality content for cheap. Two basic factors must be taken into consideration here. One, pricing is a direct dependent on the time and energy spent on the translation/interpretation of content. For example, a larger project with multiple pages may cost upwards of hundreds of dollars due to the time spent to produce the final result. And two, professional translators require a profitable income in order to make a living regardless of how basic the translation project is. For example, a general university graduate from Canada today is making anywhere from 35K-70K/year working in the translation industry. Considering our current economic climate, this salary is barely enough to live comfortably. Therefore, lowering translation prices for clientele has a direct consequence on the livelihood of professional translators. Consequently, translators are facing the dire decision of either continue working in this profession or ultimately leaving.

Wrapping it Up

To conclude, professional translation agencies and language service providers have carefully crafted fair prices for their translation services. Thus, “cheap” translation cannot exist without comprising quality and undermining the work of professional translators. I leave you with this thought: can we imagine a world in the future where human translators are a thing of the past?

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