Are translations expensive?
Let us start off by saying that this text was certainly not written to proclaim that translations are expensive. Translators are professionals that have to work hard at competitive rates. But the more work a translator can be spared, the less he or she will have to charge. Reducing the translation costs is therefore a question of making it as easy as possible for the translators. A translation partner can help you to accomplish this.
How are translation costs calculated?
To say something about how you can save on the cost of translations, it is pertinent to know how translation costs are calculated. Translators nearly always calculate the price they charge based on a rate per word. There are a number of factors that can influence the word rate they charge:
- What is the source language and what is the target language of the text to be translated?
- Are translation memories available?
- Are terminology lists available?
- Is the content of the text amenable to post-editing?
As you can imagine, you have little influence over factor 1. After all, you have a particular target language in mind for the text – this is simply a given.
Factors 2 to 4, however, can serve to reduce costs. We discuss each one individually below.
Saving money with translation memories
A translation memory consists of a collection of sentences in two languages that are linked together – these respective sentences are translations of one another. A translation memory can be built up by processing entire translations sentence by sentence. Over time, a translation memory is expanded as new translations are added to it. It can be saved as a file with a .tmx extension. TMX stands for Translation Memory Exchange and is an open XML-standard for the exchange of translation memories.
In the translation world there are a range of software packages available that can read in tmx-files to make them usable for translators. The market leader in this area is Trados Studio. We will use this software as an example.
If you have a ongoing collaboration with a translation partner that works with Trados Studio and you supply a text to him/her, then the text will first be analysed using Trados with the aid of the translation memories. Trados assesses, as it were, which parts of the text are recognised from the memory. Through this process, Trados divides the text into segments. Segments are headings or sentences or sentences in a table or under an illustration. There are three possibilities for each segment:
- A source segment (a segment in the source text) is recognised in its entirety (100%) in the memory; it has already been translated and it can be used directly for the new translation. This is called a full match.
- A source segment largely corresponds (75-99%) with a previously translated segment. For example, one or two words are different or the order of words has changed. This is called a fuzzy match.
- A source segment is not recognised in the memory and should therefore be translated in its entirety. Perhaps certain parts of the sentence do correspond, but not enough to be able to make use of them. This is called a no match.
As you might imagine, the costs of translation can be reduced considerably if the text to be translated contains a number of full or fuzzy matches. How the translation partner calculates the three different options can be agreed to in advance.
Saving money with terminology lists
A terminology list is a list of words with their specific translation into a target language. The need to record a specific translation of a word can arise when unique jargon is used within the sector for which the translation is being made. Should you use the termmanager or director? Do you call something a console or a keyboard? The same questions can arise in the translations.
If you are able to provide the terminology lists in the correct manner, then the translators will be able to do their job much more easily. The desired end result will also be achieved much faster.
Your translation partner can help you to compile the terminology lists. In contrast to translation memories, which are bilingual, a terminology list can consist of multiple languages.
Saving money with post-editing
Have you ever worked with Google Translate? Then you know what a fantastic service it is. Yet Google Translate is not suitable for translating an entire manual. A logical conclusion, really, because a language is a very complex thing. Too complex to entrust the translation entirely to the work of a computer.
Yet the result achieved by Google Translate not entirely without worth. And translation machines are becoming increasingly clever, as it were. It is therefore only logical that increased use is being made of their capacity. And this fact brings the job of post-editing into play. In post-editing, one or more translation machines (such as Google Translate) are used without placing blind faith in the result they produce. The process is simple: the source text is first translated by the machine. Then human translators (who in this capacity are referred to as post-editors) review the text and correct all the mistakes that the computer has made in the translation. The result is a high-quality product for a very competitive price.
Is every text suitable for post-editing? Certainly not! A novel or marketing text requires an entirely different approach. But manuals are particularly suited to being translated very well in this manner. Your translation partner can advise you in this regard.
If you would like to know more about how to approach the translation of your manuals in a highly adept manner, please contact us.