Which translation company is the best? It depends on what you need! There used to be only “professional” services out there, but the internet age has made some quick, cheap, and dirty options available as well. And sometimes, these might be just the thing!
Here is the low down on the entire industry in 10 minutes or less!
The sales adage–low cost, fast delivery, high quality: pick any two–does not really apply to translation. Most translation is needed “now!” or very soon. So, we are basically limited to the price and quality factors, and these are an either-or proposition. Low price = low quality. High price = high quality. That said, with time, there are limits on how fast a particular company can deliver, and some companies charge rush rates for deadlines that exceed a certain volume-per-day number.
In the brochure linked above, it lists four options: machine translation, freelancers, automated agencies, and traditional translation companies. Let’s go through each.
If you want to spend nothing and get instant, though mostly useless, results, machine translation is for you. This is the type of service you use when you don’t speak Dutch, but have been directed to a page in that language. Click the “translate this page” link, and voila! A page of English words that mostly don’t make sense, but you may find out that the page does talk about “kitchen knives,” which is the topic you are interested in. You can also go to Google Translate directly and paste text into the box. Not for the faint of heart.
Let’s assume that you have some basic emails to be translated. An automated agency like www.gengo.com could help with that. Your translation would be done by someone–whomever is available–and you would get back a reasonably understandable translation, though it might not be presentable to clients.
Next, if you had a regular need for translation, but not terribly high volumes, say a four page monthly report, you might benefit by developing a relationship with a freelancer. The freelancer would be your special go-to person for translation. You might have to wait a week until they finished rushing the rush job in which they are currently immersed, but over the long haul, you would get a higher standard of quality as the translator gained experience with your materials, and the price might be more affordable than a company, though not always. The other problem is finding someone whose talents and schedule meet your needs. And if they were to fall under a bus . . .
Last, but not least, if you are a business with a large volume required on short notice, or the content is highly technical, or you want to focus on your core business rather than managing your own translation department, a traditional translation company is for you. They will take your documents, process them to your liking, deliver the translation on time, and send you a bill. You will still have to find a company that fits your needs in terms of service, quality, and price, but once found, they should be fairly reliable. One caveat: when picking a translation company, have them do a job, then have that job evaluated by someone who speaks the target language. There are shady translation companies on the Web whose main skills seem to be SEO and SEM (search engine manipulation), and they promise the sun, moon and stars (hundreds of PhD translators in your field!) for a song, but they prey on those who know nothing about translation and wouldn’t think to check. Just search “translation scams” for numerous articles on the subject.
Or you could just contact Honyaku Plus 🙂