Many decades ago, a lady approached Pablo Picasso in a Paris park and asked him to do her portrait. He agreed, quickly drew her likeness, and requested $800. “How can you charge so much?,” she protested. “It took you only five minutes.” “Yes,” Picasso replied. “But it also took 25 years of practice.”

Most people assume that translations are like fast-food hamburgers:  Anyone can do it, you put in your order and it comes out fully cooked very quickly.  Only one element of that statement is true: Translations can be done quickly IF the right trained linguists are doing them.

As previous e-newsletters have stated, translations are a very difficult skill that requires knowledge of technical terminology in a huge variety of industries: IT, healthcare, law, agriculture, zoology, aerospace, dentistry, on-line gaming, education, HR, etc.

Highly accurate translations follow a three-step process:

  1. Initial pass by a professionally trained, native-speaking translator, with expertise in your industry terminology and usually with over ten years’ experience;
  2. Editing / Revising: Quality Assurance review by a second professionally trained translator of the same qualifications to ensure accurate nuances, vocabulary, sentence structure and acculturation to the target country; plus
  3. Proofreading for spelling, punctuation, grammar and formatting.

If a file contains graphics as in manuals, brochures and PowerPoints, extra steps are usually needed:

  1. Layout of the translations within the client’s provided source-file template; and
  2. Post-layout proofreading to ensure no dropped words, lines or captions.

As with Picasso, the skills to implement these projects with all languages working simultaneously — and to guarantee accuracy  — come with a (reasonable) price.

Non-technical websites, brochures, books, etc. can be done using lower-level qualified translators or just one professional translator for less expensive rates.

To some prospects, any price that is not similar to McDonald’s is too high. And presumably, they are satisfied with translation errors from amateurs or software programs that can damage a company’s image and prevent it from gaining revenue abroad. Interestingly, people will usually find the funds to re-do a critical job that was done badly.

Most of our clients, fortunately, want first-rate work done correctly the first time … and don’t want results such as at the Athens hotel above.

If you are in that category, please contact us for your next language project.