The cost and turnaround time for your translations are directly related to the selected translation option and workflow.
Machine translation is, of course, the fastest and most low-cost option for the translation of your content. A translation can typically be applied within a matter of seconds or minutes, at a negligible cost.
When it comes to human translation and editing, the cost and turnaround times depend on your translation vendor, as well as some other factors, as outlined below.
Translation turnaround times
Your content can be translated into multiple languages at the same time - as many as needed.
When you kick off ("authorize") a new translation request, you can select not only the required target languages, but also the preferred workflow for each language.
Each step in a workflow takes a certain amount of time to complete. The more steps the selected workflow includes, the more likely the turnaround time is to increase.
Translation vendors typically agree on a certain number of words which can be processed per business day. We recommend checking the standard turnaround times with your translation vendor.
As a rough guideline, many translation vendors can translate and edit approximately 1,500-2,000 words within 2 business days and 5,000-7,000 words within 5 business days.
Many translation vendors also offer rush fees to accommodate for a faster turnaround of particularly urgent translations.
If a workflow includes further steps, for example a review step for your internal team members, it may take significantly longer to complete the translation.
To ensure that everyone's SLAs are taken into account, Smartling allows you to automate the calculation of the turnaround times for your translations.
If you opt for human translation, the cost of translating your content is typically calculated on a per-word basis. It is the source word count (i.e. the number of words to be translated) that determines how much a translation request will cost.
Some languages are character-based and don't use spaces in between words. Therefore, when translating from such character-based languages (e.g. from Japanese to English), the cost is typically calculated based on the number of characters to translate, rather than the word count.
The rates for human translation and editing typically range from $0.15 to $0.30 per word but they can vary for each language pair. Some languages are spoken by large parts of the world's population, which means that many translators are widely available, while others are quite rare and translators are hard to find.
The translation rate might also increase for specific content types (such as legal or technical translations), which might require a high degree of specialization.
We would recommend checking the exact rates for each of your language pairs and content types directly with your translation vendor.
Please note that any costs related to the use of the Smartling Translation Management System are separate from the translation cost. If you need further information, please feel free to contact your Smartling representative.
Translation Memory: Optimizing the translation cost and speed
Over time, as you send more and more content for translation, some sentences and phrases will come up repeatedly. Instead of translating the same content again from scratch, you might want to simply reuse an existing translation.
This is made possible by a feature called a Translation Memory (TM).
To see how it helps optimize your translation cost, speed and consistency, let's take a look at the translator's perspective:
As soon as a translation gets saved by a translator in the Smartling platform, it is stored in this specialized database called a Translation Memory.
If the new text is similar (or even identical) to what was translated before, our system automatically recognizes that. The existing translation that we already have on file in the Translation Memory is shown as a suggestion to the translator.
The translator can simply reuse the previous translation and often needs to make only small tweaks.
This makes the translation process easier and much more time-efficient for the translator, leading to a quicker turnaround.
For this reason, most translation vendors offer discounts for content that has already been translated before: The better the available match from the Translation Memory, the higher the discount.
If a matching translation is available in the Translation Memory, leading to a discount on the translation cost, this is also referred to as "Translation Memory leverage". The leverage that you get from your Translation Memory affects not only the translation cost, but can also help speed up the turnaround time.
In Smartling, your Translation Memory is not shared with other customers. You can even create multiple Translation Memories within your Smartling account, if you would like to store and reuse the translations for various content types separately.
To learn more about setting up your Translation Memory and Leverage Configuration, please feel free to watch this video tutorial.
Now that we know which factors need to be considered for the calculation of translation costs and turnaround times, let's look at an example:
Smartling's Complete Guide to Translation Services, a 24 page document, contains approximately 2,440 words to be translated from English (US) into French (France) and German (Germany).
This type of translation request typically takes 3 business days to complete.
Once you kick off the translation process, this document can be translated into French and German simultaneously.
To calculate the translation cost, let's assume that our translation vendor charges the following translation rates:
Translation rate from English to French: $0.15 per word
Translation rate from English to German: $0.20 per word
These are example rates only. Please check the per-word cost for each language pair with your translation vendor.
Assuming that we are just getting started and don't have Translation Memory built up yet (and therefore don't get any discount), this translation request will amount to a total of $854:
2,440 source words x $0.15 for translation into French = $366
2,440 source words x $0.20 for translation into German = $488
Total for both languages: $854
To make things easier, Smartling automates these calculations and shows you a cost estimate for each translation request straight away. You can learn more about cost estimates in our Help Center.