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Should I contract with a translation agency or an individual translator?

Should I contract with a translation agency or an individual translator?

You may have automatically assumed that the most appropriate option for translating your website, reports, and other business documents is to hire a large translation agency. In this article, I would like to share some of the benefits of hiring a translator directly and explain the pros and cons of the two options.

Hiring a translation agency, while costing more money, may provide certain advantages:

  • A large agency has the advantage of being able to handle “sheer volume” by having project managers dedicated to handling splitting a large translation among many translators. Although it is not ideal, if you need to translate a large volume urgently, this may be the only option.
  • If you need to translate your text into several languages, chances are that a large agency will be able to fulfill that need.
  • If your business deals with a variety of technical areas rather than a highly focused one, the agency will be able to assign documents that require different specializations to different translators.
  • A good agency may have provided their translators with materials such as glossaries to assist them with their translations and ensure consistency.
  • good agency maybe It has other quality assurance processes in place and must at least have checked its translators against some basic criteria such as the number of years of experience and in some cases satisfactorily completing a short test.

However, you should not assume that any of this is the case. Since the agency can take anything up to half of the translation price in commission, you should check the actual added value that you are offering. Does the agency carefully select the translator best suited for your project and then apply further proofreading and verification? Or do they simply mass-mail their compilers, assign the task to the first person available and mail the result to you without further verification?

You should also not assume that the above factors cannot be addressed if you are working with a single translator. If appropriate for your project, working directly with a single translator can bring various advantages and still meet some of the above needs:

  • You have direct contact with the professional who will actually be working on your project. You can discuss with them any specific requirements or doubts you have. On the contrary, they can quickly check any points in the text that require clarification.
  • You know that the same translator will be working on your material and will get to know your project and your company intimately.
  • While an individual translator will only be able to handle a modest volume compared to a large agency and will be a specialist in certain areas, many translators will also collaborate with trusted colleagues when needed to handle a larger volume or consult with them on a particular subject area. However, a good translator will still check his colleague’s work for errors and make sure, for example, that their use of terminology is consistent.
  • You can ask the translator about his experience and expertise in your field of specialization. Translators specialize in certain technical areas, but a professional translator should also be happy to give you an honest answer if they can’t take on a particular job.
  • While agencies can in principle benefit individual translators with their own terminology knowledge base and translation memory, in practice many agencies do not fulfill this role. In any case, nowadays good translators will be familiar with and have access to the large terminology databases on the Internet which have made traditional resources somewhat redundant.

Given the above factors, if you haven’t looked into it before, I highly recommend that you consider the option of hiring a translator directly if it is suitable for your business needs.

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