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A Language Translation Overview

LanguageWhat is language translation?

Put simply, translation is the process of rendering the content and meaning of one language into another language. Translation relates specifically to the written word, unlike interpreting which is the conversion of the spoken word from one Language to another.

Translation is usually performed by freelance professional translators or in-house translators working in a translation company or agency. Both freelance and company translators are professionally qualified experts with extensive linguistic knowledge. A professional translator should only ever translate into their native Language as this helps to ensure that the translation reads and flows naturally.

In this article we are looking specifically at human translation and not the computer-assisted machine/statistical machine translation equivalent. Whilst machine translation has its place, human translation is a complex, time-consuming process that can deliver exceptional results far superior to automatic translation.

How long does it take?

On average, a translator can translate approximately 2, 500 words in any one working day, but there are occasions when the volume of words translated is significantly higher or lower. There are numerous variables that contribute to this, including Language combination, subject matter, complexity, source document format and required target document format.

Tools of the trade

It may sound obvious, but the most important tool of the trade is the translator's brain. It contains a vast amount of linguistic knowledge about their source and target languages, which enables them to accurately render one language into another. Translators often spend years in higher and further education developing their language and translation skills to make themselves a more versatile, informed and competent linguist.

Many translators also make use of sophisticated translation tools, known as Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tools. These complement the human translation process and assist the translator in areas such as consistency and with repeat content. Trados, Dejavu and Wordfast are some of the CAT tools available today.

As is true of many professions, the internet has also become a standard tool of the trade for translators today. The vast amount of information available makes research fast, effective and instantly available.

How is it charged and how much does it cost?

Most translation companies and freelance translators charge by the word. Prices are often indicated per 1, 000 words, although they are normally calculated on the actual word count and not a rounded figure.

Translation prices vary depending on language combination, format, complexity and deadline. In the UK you can expect to pay between £80.00 - £300.00 per 1, 000 words for translation through an agency. It is worth noting that the higher rate is reserved for incredibly rare or unusual language combinations, so for commonly translated language pairs the price will be far lower than the top amount.

In summary, buyers of translation should be aware that it is a complex process performed by skilled experts, and a professional translator is much more than someone who can speak another language. Always speak to a translation company/experienced translator when planning your project as it will pay dividends in the long run and will ensure that you get a translation perfectly matched to your requirements.

For more information about professional translation or to discuss a project, get in touch with Sure Languages at www.sure-languages.com.

Translation Agency | Expert Translation | About Languages


Sure Languages is a UK-based commercial translation and interpreting company. Providing its services in over 100 languages, Sure Languages takes the headache out of global communication. If you're looking for translation services and need advice on how best to proceed, check out our informative website or contact our team:

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