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I am in the process of choosing a translation agency to handle my projects. What is the advantage of a small agency over a big one?

Many translation buyers who aren’t very familiar with the way the world of translation is organised opt to have their projects handled by big agencies, assuming that a bigger agency who charges high rates would provide them a better service. However, since most large agencies don’t have an actual in-house team of translators in their offices, it’s common practice for them to split the work and subcontract it to other, smaller agencies – who, in turn, often subcontract it again. With a project going through so many hands, it’s not uncommon that up to 70% of the amount a client pays for translation services are consumed by administration and middlemen’s margins before the document even reaches the linguist in charge of the translation. If you want to make sure the money you spend goes into assuring translation quality rather than forwarding e-mails, consider sending your project to a smaller agency, ideally one that employs in-house translators.

 

I have seen that other providers state a blanket rate for translation services on their website. Why doesn’t Villengua do the same?

The price of a translation is affected by many different factors, such as length and complexity of the source text, language combination, formatting and turnaround time. In order to make sure that all of our clients get exactly what they need at a fair price, at Villengua we have chosen not to apply a blanket rate for our translation services. Instead, we quote on each of our clients’ projects individually, carefully taking into account the specific parameters of the task at hand. Would you like to ask for a quote?

 

I have an urgent large document to be translated overnight. Can’t the task just be split among several translators?

If it’s absolutely inevitable, yes, your project can be split among several translators in order to speed up the process. However, since each translator has their own style and preferences, having several people work on one document is likely to compromise its consistency. As a result, more time and effort needs to be put into the editing stage to make the text appear as if it had been written as one piece. If time permits and your aim is to achieve a highly consistent translation with maximum usability, consider having your project carried out by a single translator. At the end of the day, it might even save you time (and money!), as your translation won’t have to go through several rounds of editing in order to be consistent.

 

I am bilingual. Can’t I just do the translation myself?

It’s great to be fluent in two languages. However, translation is a complex task that requires a lot more than just being bilingual. Professional translators are experts of the written word; they know how to apply different translation techniques, have translation-specific research skills, use specialised software that allows them to keep their texts consistent and error-free, etc. What's more, they have exceptional knowledge of their source languages, and – perhaps more importantly – their target language, which is their native language. Then again, if you want to translate a text for your own personal use only and you feel up to the task, then go ahead! For everything else, a professional translator is most likely the better solution.

 

There are a lot of free instant translation tools on the Internet. Can’t I just use them instead of hiring a human translator?

The reputation of these translation tools is bad for a reason. If you've ever seen a menu translated by a free instant translation tool, you know what we’re talking about. Of course, this doesn’t mean they can’t be useful in some situations, like when you just need to find out the gist of an e-mail you received and it doesn’t matter whether or not the output is correct. However, if you want to produce a translation for anyone other than yourself, it’s best to stay away from free translation tools, as the low quality they provide is likely to make you look unprofessional. And as if that weren’t bad enough, many free translation programs reserve the right to save and publish your data – yet another reason for avoiding them.

 

The translator handling my project is asking a lot of questions. Does that mean they are a bad translator?

When it comes to a translator asking questions, it’s very important to distinguish between the types of questions they ask. A translator who is displaying a poor grasp of the source language, asking questions about every other word – even though they received a clear and well-written original text – should definitely raise a red flag. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that questions are necessarily a bad thing. More often than not, a translator being inquisitive is a sign of professionalism rather than amateurism. It means that they read your texts carefully and try to understand them on a profound level as opposed to just taking a guess whenever they encounter something a bit fuzzy. A translator’s questions might even help you to identify weak spots and improve your original documents! If you want to get the most out of your translation budget, try to be available for questions and ideally send a brief with your project in which you provide information regarding the intended use and target audience of the text.

 

I need to make some small changes to the translated document. Can I do this myself?

When it comes to editing translated texts, extreme care needs to be taken. Many people assume that they can make changes to their target language documents with just the help of a dictionary – after all, it’s “only one word”. However, languages are structured very differently from one another, and amending one word in the English source text might very well require amending several in the German translation. Another common source of errors is punctuation. Also here, languages follow different rules, e.g., French uses a space before colons, exclamation marks and question marks, whereas English and German do not. If you need to make changes to your translated document, your best option is to check back with the translator.