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It is important that you think carefully before choosing a translation provider. There are a number of pitfalls in the field of translation, as many businesses have had to learn the hard way. Choosing the wrong translation provider can quickly become a frustrating and costly process. So make sure you understand what qualifications are needed to deliver the result you hope for, and how you can ensure that the translator has what it takes. We understand that this choice is both important and difficult, so we have collected some questions and answers here that may help you in your search for the perfect translation partner.

How do I find the right translator?

It is extremely important that you find the right match between task and translator, and that you spend some time on the process – just as you do when you need help with your accounts, contracts, websites or other important tasks. The right match depends on the nature of the task. Does it for example involve translation into one or several languages? And what is the topic

Unfortunately there are a lot of bad apples in the translation industry, many of whom offer translation services without possessing the necessary skills.

We can help you to navigate around the usual pitfalls. That’s why we’ve compiled a checklist that is useful to have at hand during your first contact with a language provider: a list of questions you should ask, and the information that should be included in the basis for your decision. You can also read about the education of professional translators under the question: “What kind of education does a professional translator have?”

Checklist: How to find the right translator

  1. Does the translator hold a third-level degree in language and/or translation?
  2. What experience does the translator have with your subject and professional area?
  3. Can the translator present a so-called translator CV, so that you can see which projects, and possibly which clients, the translator has previously worked with?
  4. Is it possible to contact references, or are there websites where customers have commented on or rated the translator’s services?
  5. Is the translator willing to do a test translation of a text that uses your terminology and jargon? A test translation will undoubtedly give you a better basis on which to take a decision.
  6. What does it cost? The price should of course be part of your decision basis, but be careful not to let the price be the decisive factor. It can quickly become a costly affair if you subsequently have to spend time complaining about and correcting the quality of a poorly done job.

If you need to have your texts translated into many different languages, this can best be done by a large translation agency. The larger agencies have the interface and scale advantages that are required when you need to translate your texts into a wide range of languages. However, you should be aware that the quality aspect can be challenged in a process with large agencies and many languages that you do not understand yourself. If your company has local employees who speak the languages that the texts are being translated into, it is a good idea to ally yourself with them and get them to help with quality assurance. Some translation agencies are ISO-certified and thus use only translators who have the necessary training and experience. The ISO standard for translation is ISO 17 100.

iSay is always ready to help you with advice and guidance – including in relation to choosing a provider of language services other than those we offer via our website.

What does a translation cost?

The pricing model for translations is structured differently to those of other services, and is based on a price per word. On the basis of the number of words, we estimate how much time we will need for the translation, and thereby what it will cost.

The price per word depends on various factors – first and foremost the subject of the text and the translator’s qualifications. Under other questions in this FAQ, we address the pitfalls of the translation industry, the greatest of which is unskilled persons who bid for tasks – typically at a price lower than that of the professional translators. Terminologically heavy technical texts, legal insurance texts and other texts that are considered to be more complex or require a greater degree of creativity (such as transcreation) will usually also trigger a higher price.

If your text contains many repetitions, we will offer a discount. This could for example be the case if you have to send out five almost identical customer letters to five different target groups, in which only a few words or phrases have been changed.

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Why are there differences in translation prices?

There are many pitfalls in the translation industry. We who work professionally with translation often find that we are ‘competing’ with unskilled persons. So the explanation for the price differences is in fact very simple: You get what you pay for.

You could compare it with the price differences between supermarkets. In some places, we pay a bit extra for the products, but the quality of the products and the whole service experience is better than when we shop in the cheaper supermarkets. In the more expensive supermarkets, you also have access to a sommelier, a butcher, a fishmonger and a greengrocer, all of whom have great insight and knowledge of their respective fields of expertise. They are happy to share their knowledge and their pride in their products with you – they want you to achieve the best results with what want to do with the products. If you look confused, they will approach you and guide you to the right choices.

If you tell the sommelier that you are planning to surprise and impress your partner on your wedding day, he will recommend a tasty Barolo rather than the cheaper variety you may have put in your basket – because the quality of the wine must of course match the delicious, expensive steak you have just bought from the butcher, if the taste experience is not to fall flat! The experts help you to succeed, and they are passionate about what they do. That’s how it is with professional translators, too – we take great pride in providing a product that will help you to achieve your goals.

How can I get a quick price estimate?

Before you begin your search for the right translator, you should do yourself (and the translator) the favour of defining your task. Then you can quickly give the translator the information needed to calculate a price.

We have created a template that you can use as inspiration for the information the translator needs:

  • Type of text (website, guide, brochure, app, etc.)
  • Source and target language, i.e. the language from which and into which the text is to be translated (Danish-English, Swedish-Norwegian, German-Danish, etc.)
  • Topic (energy, e-learning, law, business, etc.)
  • Number of words (you can copy the text into Word, if necessary, and make a word count)
  • Format (Word, PDF, Excel, etc.)
  • Desired delivery date
  • Should the translation be literal, or is there a need for creativity?
  • Will the translation be used online, and if so, should it be SEO-optimised?
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What does proofreading cost?

Proofreading is invoiced on an hourly basis.

When we work with proofreading, we distinguish between ordinary proofreading and language revision. In a proofreading, we ‘vacuum’ your text for spelling and punctuation errors, but in a language revision we give it a thorough overhaul and may rephrase your text so that the language and messages are razor sharp.

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Translator, interpreter – what’s the difference?

The difference between an interpreter and a translator is simple: A translator works with written translation, while an interpreter works with oral translation.

Translators work with many different types of text, encompassing anything from the software on your phone to websites, contracts, financial statements, user guides, brochures, books and much more.

In interpreting, there are three different disciplines: consecutive interpreting, simultaneous interpreting and whisper interpreting. Many people are familiar with interpreters from EU contexts, but interpreters, like translators, also deal with a wide range of different subject areas and may for example be employed as court or police interpreters.

In the five-year Danish MSc programme in Business Administration, linguistic line, you are trained as both an interpreter and a translator. However, the vast majority of us choose to concentrate on one discipline or the other.

iSay does not offer interpreting, but we are happy to refer you to others who do.

The professional title ‘translator’ is not protected and may therefore be used by people who do not necessarily possess the relevant education and experience. A relevant education does not necessarily have to be a degree in translation, but may also be a language programme from a university.

The title of ‘translator’ can therefore cover both persons formally trained in the profession, or persons with a different but relevant education, or persons without any relevant education or experience at all.

What education does a professional translator have?

Under the question “Translator, interpreter – what’s the difference?” you can read about the difference between being able to call yourself a translator and an interpreter, respectively. Roughly speaking, the title of translator is generic, so anyone can in principle call themselves a translator. Until its abolition in 2016, the Danish title of state-authorised translator required an MSc in translation, i.e. a degree as both interpreter and translator.

The Danish interpreter and translator training, which today has a different form, was provided by Copenhagen Business School (CBS). The first part of the study was a three-year BA programme, followed by a two-year MA programme.

In addition to going in depth with translation of texts within technical, financial and legal disciplines, the programme taught translation theory, text linguistics, pragmatics, text analysis, morphology, syntax, semantics and grammar, as well as cultural, political and social conditions in the country or countries where the relevant languages are spoken.

How do you ensure that your translations are of high quality?

The procedure is more complex than most people imagine. We don’t just throw ourselves into your text the moment it lands in our inbox.

The process behind a thoroughly well-worked translation is as follows:

  1. Read the source text
  2. Perform research online and/or in textbooks, read reference materials (websites, style guides, etc.)
  3. Translate (we call this step rough translation, because this is where the first translation is produced, which however is typically adjusted several times before delivery)
  4. Fine-tuning (the phrasing and wording are adjusted until a natural and fluent language is achieved)
  5. First quality assurance: Check for any discrepancies between the source and target text (e.g. in relation to quantities or dates)
  6. Second quality assurance: Carry out ordinary spell checking, check for double spaces, correct layout, etc.

When we enter into a collaboration, we emphasise receiving as much relevant information about your company and your products as possible. That gives us the best preconditions for delivering a result you will be satisfied with. We emphasise dialogue and feedback in the start-up phase, so that we can constantly become more attuned to your company’s terminology and tone of voice. It’s all about finding a form of language that you can identify with – and that’s the language that we must work together to find.

What is an SEO translation?

An SEO translation is not the same as SEO optimisation, which is a much more comprehensive service provided by an SEO expert. An SEO translation is a translation that is SEO-optimised. Roughly speaking, this means that we make sure to implement the keywords identified by your company or SEO expert in our translations.

The importance of SEO optimisation should not be underestimated. SEO-optimised texts give you a competitive edge, because your texts then become relevant in relation to the search terms that users enter when searching on Google. They help to give you a higher ranking in the search engines, which means more users are directed to your website. So if your translation is to be used online, it is important that you consider whether there is a need to order an SEO translation.

iSay can help to put you in touch with SEO experts.

Do you use machine translation?

All translations ordered via iSay are 100% translated by human beings. We do not use machine translation.

However, some translation companies do. And is it really such a bad thing? There’s no simple answer to that, but basically you need to know that machines cannot deliver the same high quality as human beings. The machines can only process the text you feed them with – they cannot take heed of the context. And they know nothing about, for example, social conditions, local conditions, culture, geography, history or other factors that can be decisive in how we translate a text. So you risk not only that your text will be spit out in a nonsensical language, but also that it will be factually incorrect.

Another well-known challenge with machine translation is that words can be translated in more than one way, depending on the context in which they appear. Unfortunately, you cannot simply teach these differences to the machine.

When it comes to Google Translate, you should exercise extra caution. As a tool, it is useful for some purposes. But once you have fed Google with your text, you allow Google to use your content for ever. So if your texts contain personal or confidential information, don’t use Google Translate. Think of GDPR laws and confidentiality clauses. Or just think twice!

Does this mean that machine translation is useless?

No. But if you do choose to use it anyway, you should stick to texts that have been purged of personal and confidential information, and refrain from using the translations in a serious or professional context.

There are also private machine translation platforms, some of which have proved surprisingly good for texts with a uniform sentence structure and many context-dependent standard formulations, such as certain kinds of guides and contracts. However, the translations must always be reviewed by experts in the language and subject matter, as the machines undoubtedly have their limitations.

Under ‘SEO translations’ you can read about the special disadvantages of using machine translation for texts that need to be SEO-optimised.