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The ultimate guide to translation services

Get all of your translation questions answered with our ultimate guide to translation services. If you require professional translation services, contact us.

To someone unfamiliar with translation services, it can seem like a complicated and confusing process – but for an organisation to be able to flourish within overseas markets, it's essential to get right.

The help of a professional translation company like Wolfestone enables companies to expand into other countries and cultures, making sure that the content is relevant, free of errors and will appeal to the residents of the targeted region.

At Wolfestone we offer high quality translation services for every industry and language. Our team of professional linguistic experts are native speakers and specialists in a whole range of sectors from manufacturing to medical industries. In this guide we can help you learn more about how translation services work, so that you can make an informed decision for your next project.

What are the 3 types of translation?

Many translation services will tell you about their industry-leading technology, but what's also important is the people behind it. Too much reliance on the wrong type of tools can lead to critical errors, which is why talented, meticulous translators and proofreading specialists are vital. Many translation services use a combination of these types of translating, depending on the needs of the project.

1 - Machine or AI-led translation

Machine translation, or AI translation, substitutes the words in one language into another based on the rules that are already fed into the system. One of the most obvious example of a free machine translation tool is Google Translate. Although useful for a variety of tasks, machine translation does have its limitations. It can struggle with recognising whole phrases as it tends to pick out individual words one after another, and matching them to the closest counterpart in another language.

If you have large volumes of text to translate on a budget, consider turning to a bespoke AI translation tool rather than free machine translation – It will allow you to customise your terminology bank based on your company's needs.

However, for colloquial, creative texts, or those that depend on absolute accuracy, additional human proofreading or start-to-end translation is vital .

2 - Computer-aided translation

Computer-assisted translation (CAT for short) involves a human using the latest cutting-edge translation software to support the translation process. Powerful CAT tools can help make the whole process much more efficient, as there are whole databases that can store previously translated texts. This is hugely beneficial where whole segments can be repeated across numerous documents, saving the human translator a lot of time and cutting down the overall cost of the project.

3 - Human translation

This relies solely on the skills and experience of the human translator. Because of this, human translation is much more labour intensive and costly than other methods of translation. However, you have the benefit of a creative, problem-solving mind and complete cultural understanding of your target region. This is fundamental in brand-critical texts.

What are the principles of translation?

A high quality professional translation service will make sure to adhere to the fundamental translation principles, which are relevant across all types of translation, no matter what kind of project.

1 - Form

The order of both the words and ideas in the copy should match the original as closely as possible. This is particularly crucial when translating things like legal documents and contracts.

2 - Meaning

It should go without saying that the translation should accurately convey the meaning of the original - nothing that could affect the meaning should be removed or added.

3 - Style

The style of the translated text should be the same as the original, although translators may correct errors or repetitions as they see fit, if it improves the flow of the text and doesn't affect the meaning.

4 - The issue of idioms

Idioms are notoriously difficult to translate. Idioms include similes, slang and other colloquial phrases like 'beat around the bush' or 'break a leg'. Oftentimes they don't translate into another language, and in that case a good translator will be able to use a close equivalent or plain prose instead to convey the meaning of the phrase.

What are the types of translation services?

1 - Marketing Translation Services

In order for a business to develop, its message needs to be understood by a variety of audiences in their own language. Marketing translation services can allow you to communicate your brand and message on a global stage. It can cover your website, mailing list, social media posts and also physical print translation for banners, flyers and brochures. Read our ultimate guide to marketing translation on our blog.

2 - Website Translation Services

Only 25.9% of the Internet is in English, so you're reaching an enormous potential audience when you choose to have your website translated into other languages. When you have your website translated, this includes everything from website copy to page elements like call to action buttons. What's more, Wolfestone offers multilingual SEO optimisation as part of our website translation services, meaning your website will rank well in other countries.

3 - Technical Translation Services

Technical translation services involve translating technical documents such as user manuals and instruction leaflets. This type of translation involves a high level of knowledge of the industry and terminology used. In addition to this, Wolfestone experts have the ability to translate not only text but specialist diagrams too, our staff being able to advise on file types and formats to ensure your translation is comprehensive and all-encompassing.

4 - Legal Translation Services

Professional translators will understand the importance and nuances of meeting the needs of individual legal specialisms. 'Legalese' as it's known is almost another language in its own right, and legal translators will need to know the legal implications of what's being translated. Legal translation services include commercial contracts, patents and transcriptions to name a few. Find out more about how to translate legal documents on our blog.

5 - Urgent Translation Services

Sometimes you'll need something translated urgently, for a tight or unexpected deadline. When you choose Wolfestone for your urgent request, we don't cut corners on quality. With over a decade of experience working with companies meeting urgent deadlines, we've always delivered excellent translations every time.

6 - Patent Translation Services

In order to secure patent protection in foreign markets, it's important to have your patent documents translated correctly. Professional translators will make sure that no complex terminology is mistranslated. Patent documents have a very unique style of writing, and a poorly translated patent will slow down the entire patent filing process.

7 - Business Translation Services

Now that business has become global, efficient communication between offices has become more and more important. Business translation is the process of translating both informal and official documents including things like emails and training materials. All of these documents affect how your organisation runs, so it's integral to have them translated accurately to prevent any misunderstandings.

8 - Certified Translation Services

Copies of documents that can be certified include passports, marriage certificates, witness statements and more. In the UK, a certified translation means that the translation service you have used has officially signed and declared it as an accurate and true representation of the original document. Certified translations services will also need to include the date of the translation and the details of the representative of the translation company.

What is the difference between translation and interpreting?

Translation and interpreting services may appear on the surface very similar and being able to connect with your audience in multiple languages ​​may well involve a combination of the two. Both require a high level of cultural and linguistic knowledge, but there are distinct differences which can help you decide based on your business' needs.

Interpretation

Interpretation usually involves speech. It is very much an in the moment, on the spot service. It's usually delivered live and with little or no help from reference texts or scripts. Projects that interpreters work on include live television events, conferences and courtroom proceedings.

Translation

Translation, on the other hand, usually concerns the written word. The majority of modern translators use technology within their work, which is one of the main differences from interpreters. They will also use reference materials such as style guides to check their work, as well as having it proofread. Projects that translators work on include website copy, print media and video subtitling.

How much do translation services cost?

We know that everyone needs to work to a budget, and everyone's budget is different! You want to get the best quality work for your money, but it's necessary to understand how pricing methods work, and different factors which could affect the cost of the service.

For word

This is probably the most popular method of pricing in the world of translation services. It's chosen often because of its convenience for everyone involved, but make sure you check how the word count is calculated and if there are any other factors which could alter the cost, such as the urgency of the project or the subject area.

For line

In some countries, prices are worked out by a unit of measurement called a line. Standard lines containing 55 characters (including the spaces between the words). This can mean prices can vary depending on the average word length in each individual language, so may not always be the most cost-effective option depending on the language.

Per page

Some translation services will charge by the number of pages within a project. This method of pricing is popular for projects that have been scanned in and are in a PDF format, such as medical documents or old books. They may also factor in additional costs for non-lexical content such as tables or graphs, as these are more complex elements which may take longer to replicate and translate.

Per hour

The prices for this system can vary greatly, as a highly skilled translator will work much faster than an inexperienced one. It is however one of the best models for creative projects, or for editing content that has already been translated.

Flat fee

A flat fee is sometimes the preferred option for translation projects using languages ​​that have characters, such as Chinese and Korean. This is because per word and per page models may not work as easily, as whole phrases can be conveyed in a single character.

Minimum price

This pricing method is often used for small, one-off projects to make sure that the translator's overheads are covered.

Customised

This can be the preferred method if your project is more complex, for example, if it's about a specialist subject or needs to be translated into a rare language. High volume projects may sometimes be eligible for a discounted rate, if you have a good working relationship with your translation agency or translator, this can be worth asking.

Now you know more about the way pricing works for translation services, you can feel more confident asking about pricing and negotiating the right deal which is mutually beneficial for you and the translation company.

How long does translation take?

Turnaround time expectations are naturally important for organisations looking for translation services. There is a common misconception that the best translation companies have the fastest turnaround, but times can vary depending on a number of factors.

Size of project

The most obvious factor in how long a project will take is its size. The bigger the project, the more there is the need for multiple translators, which in turn demands the need for quality checks and proofreading to make sure their work is consistent with one another's. Costs for project managers would also need to be factored into the budget of large scale projects.

Language differences

For some more complex languages ​​it will take the average translator a longer time to complete the project, and it should also be taken into account when working across different time zones as communication may also take longer.

Specialist subject

Depending on who you're working with, different companies have strengths in different areas. If your project is very specialised, it's worth finding an agency who have experts in that field as naturally they will be able to work faster. Wolfestone has a huge network of high-quality translators who have vast experience in a range of sectors - find out more about them here.

Repetition

If your project includes a lot of the same words or phrases, this makes it easier to translate. As mentioned earlier, many translators have access to software which can automatically recognize and automatically replicate these repetitions.

How to choose the right translator

When you're looking for a translation services company to work with, it's easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of choice. Which agency you decide to work with depends a lot on your criteria and budget.

If you only have one or two documents that need to be translated for internal use, you might be able to get away with looking for the cheapest price. However, if you have multiple documents which will be read by potential partners or customers, you'll need to invest in high quality translation services that can deliver consistent work to a high standard. Here are some other factors that you should consider when choosing a translation services company.

1 - What languages ​​do they offer?

At the beginning, you might only need your texts translated into one or two other languages. If the agency you choose to work with can translate multiple languages, you know you'll never need to look elsewhere and can develop a good working relationship with them.

2 - How do they treat their customers?

Before making any big decisions, drop the agency a call or an email to see how they respond to a potential customer. Do they respond quickly? Are they polite and enthusiastic? Do they ask about your needs? Having an initial insight into their level of customer service is really helpful to give you a sense of how they deal with their clients.

3 - What kind of technology do they use?

High quality translation services will use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools, which help by ensuring that terms are translated uniformly across each text. If an organisation uses these tools and other types of technological services, that can be a good indicator that you're dealing with an efficient and reputable organisation.

4 - What are their prices like?

Most reputable translation services will only quote a price for an assignment once they have had the chance to read through it. This is to take into account the difficulty of the project, the language and how technical it will be to translate. Prices also include things like proofreading and overall project management fees.

Contact us

We hope this guide has given you more of an understanding of translation services, how they work and what you need to think about when undertaking a new project.

Offering leading professional translation services, the team at Wolfestone delivers high quality and accurate translations every time, for a huge variety of industries and languages.

If you're interested in finding out more about how our years of experience can help you with your next project, we'd love to hear from you.

Contact us today.

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