4. The Mother Tongue of a Translator

Mother-tongueTranslators are experts for several languages. However, every translator has only one best language – mostly his mother tongue. This is the language he uses most of the time; this is the language that is usually spoken in his home country, and despite the fact that he has received good education for his other languages and has a very good command of them, his mother tongue will always be unmatched. His other languages remain foreign languages.

This is the usual case. However, the mother tongue of a translator is not always bound to his home country. For example, a translator who was born in Germany, but moved to the USA a long time ago and since then has been primarily speaking English may experience a “mother tongue switch”. His foreign language becomes his new mother tongue. The bottom line is that the mother tongue is the language at which the translator feels the most comfortable.
Many professional translators, us included, think that translators should only translate into their mother tongue to ensure best translation quality.

If targetLanguage = motherTongue Then placeOrder()

Of course, there are many translators who offer translations from their foreign language into their mother tongue and vice versa. However, you should try to find a translator whose mother tongue is equal to the language you want your text to be translated to.

3. Why You Should Look for Spezialized Translators

Omniscient-translatorYou wouldn’t ask your plumber to repair your car, just because both have something to do with technology. You neither should ask a translator specializing in law to translate your video game or technical app. Every professional translator specializes in one or more fields. The omniscient translator is a myth. Of course, I could translate your working contract. However, I would require much more time for the translation than a translator who specializes in law. And as we all know: time is money – your Money.

Furthermore, a translator who specializes in a different field cannot reach the quality of a specialist. He lacks the knowledge of the correct terminology and could misunderstand the content of the specialized source text. Do not take any risk here. Always look for a translator who has experience in your required field. After all, you do not want to explain to your translator what a string is.

2. Professional Translator vs. Non-Professional Translator

Last week I introduced you to non-professional translators. They have never received an education as translator and therefore do not have any certificate whatsoever to prove their qualifications.

The problem is that “translator” is not a protected job title. everybody who speaks multiple languages, could just call himself a translator. Of course, there is more to it than just speaking some languages. There is grammar to perfect, lots and lots of terminology and translation techniques to be learned, special knowledge in a working field to be obtained (e.g., apps and video games). Furthermore, a very good understanding of cultural differences is absolutely necessary. People are studying this for several years for a reason.

When searching for a suitable translator, I highly recommend you to ignore translators without actual degrees and start searching for state-certified translators, graduate translators, translators (BA) etc. – so basically any actual job title indicating their qualifications.

1. How Much Should a Translation Cost?

Without a doubt, affordable prices for translations are very important. However, keep in mind that “you always get what you pay for” – especially in the translation sector. There are many people out there offering translation services for 0.06 EUR per word or even less.

Let me calculate this for you. A usual translator can handle about 250 word per hour. If we assume that a translator works for 0.06 EUR per word, he or she would work for (250*0.06) 15 EUR per hour. If we subtract costs for taxes, insurance, and business expenses, there isn’t much left to live from.

People offering their services for such rates are by no means professional translators, but people who happen to speak multiple languages and wish to somehow earn a little extra money. I know that those prices appear very tempting. However, I assure you that such translations will be flooded with serious mistakes and incomprehensible sentences. In the end, you will inevitably have to pay a much higher price.

What are Realistic Prices for Professional Translations?

Adequate prices of professional specialized translators (freelancers, not translation agencies) start at about 0.11 EUR per word. Of course, the price depends on some factors. The most important ones are:

  • Complexity of the field (e.g., technology)
  • Complexity of the source text
  • Widely spread languages are usually cheaper than rare languages
  • Further services in addition to translation (e.g., proofreading)
  • Experience of the translator

Example: A translation of a high-tech laser documentation from Swedish to Hebrew is more expensive than a closet assembly instruction from Spanish to English.

Finding the Right Translator

Fire-extinguishers-and-granadesWho turns fire extinguishers to hand grenades and a toolbox to a manicure set? No, we are not talking about angry sorcerers. This post is about how “translators” turn something usual into something hilarious or even dangerous.

All of us have come across really bad translations at least once in our lives. Many of them make us laugh. However, most of them are nothing to laugh at for the people who ordered decent translations and received this kind of “masterpieces”. App developers require excellent translations to enter new markets. Every mistake in the translation could leave their customers confused or even angry – and the developer’s image damaged.

A huge challenge for developers planning to enter a new market is to find a suitable translator. The following tips will help you to find the perfect translator for your requirements.

Contents of the Finding the Right Translator series

This will be the beginning of a blog series to guide you to your perfect translator. Beginning now, we will publish a new post every week explaining to you what you have to take into account when searching for a translator.

Here is a short summary of the posts we will publish over the next weeks:

  1. How Much Should a Translation Cost?
  2. Professional Translator vs. Non-professional Translator
  3. Why You Should Look for Specialized Translators
  4. The Mother Tongue of a Translator
  5. Translation Agency or Freelancer?
  6. In a Nutshell