Obtaining a Translation/Interpretation Quote
The reliability of a quote for a translation project depends very much on the quality and extent of the information provided to prepare the quote. "Seven pages of Spanish" is totally inadequate information; it omits numerous essential variables:
What is the working volume (word count)?
What is the subject?
What format of delivery of the original document is available and in what format is the translation desired?
What is the expected turnaround for the translation?
What is the purpose of the translation - in house informational or for republication?
A special case under this category (5) regards patents: In general, translation of a patent for filing in another language should not be assigned to a translator unless a qualified target language bilingual national patent attorney is prepared to review and polish the filing, as required. It is unreasonable to expect a ready-for-filing patent translation from a translator (and especially at translation rates).
Is this the final document for translation or are there likely to be near term revisions?
Interpretation quotes also require full information as to the circumstance and purpose of the interpretation.
In summary, the better the quality and completeness of the information provided by the prospective client, the better the reliability of the quote. In over 35 years of providing language services Tristan Translations has all too frequently seen situations where an attorney or corporate executive has not provided sufficient information to a delegated service requestor to satisfy the necessary requirement for reliable quoting.
Why we do not provide on-line quotes or estimates
While it might initially appear to be a mutual convenience, it actually is inefficient and cumbersome. Almost every translation project has individual features and requirements that influence the cost of the project. A quotation template that covered many expected situations would be very long and complex and still likely to be inadequate for a confident response. This is still an area where direct contact and interaction perform better than internet contact.
Why are professional language services so expensive?
Per word rates and per hour rates of professional language services may initially appear to be very expensive. It may help to look at this situation from the provider's situation rather that the client's situation. A professional translator/interpreter needs to earn a reasonable living from their services. As independent contractors they are likely to experience normal work flows, but often also crunches and voids. Their rates reflect these realities. A professional translator/interpreter is not someone who works in a cubicle down the hall and happens to be bilingual. A large percentage of language professionals have not only bachelor or equivalent degrees but advanced degrees.
Consider the situation of interpreters: A 30-minute mid-morning interpretation in effect uses up one half of the interpreter's working/earning day. That is why two hour minimums are common. Consider cancellation charges (less than 24 hours notice): A cancellation in the short term has effectively denied the interpreter the opportunity to accept other same-time assignments.