In every sphere of our lives, many of us often look for the best bargain, if not the lowest price, and translation services are no exception. But there are some risks associated with doing business with a translation agency that offers very low prices, and you should take them into account when assessing what your translation needs are really costing you.

The Canadian translation market represents approximately 10% of the industry’s global market. While Canada and Québec have their share of professional translators who knows how to do French Canadian translation, international translation agencies are becoming important players, mainly because of the low cost translations some of them are offering – low price translations that are sometimes achieved by hiring translators in countries where the cost of living is much lower.

Therefore, in some parts of the world, it is now possible to get English to French translations for as low as $0.03 per word. From a strictly quantitative perspective, this offering creates a competition that is hard to beat for Canadian professional translators, who charge an average of $0.20 to $0.25 per word.

There are three major downsides to using low cost translation services:

  • The lower the price, the higher the chances you won’t get the quality you expect.

As such, if you choose to go with a cheap translation, the chances are good that your translation will be of poor quality.

  • There is country-specific information that might be left behind if you choose to go with low cost translations done by foreigners.

Furthermore, if you are trying to reach a Canadian audience, your translations might not be on target since low cost translation services are often hiring translators from abroad that may not use idiomatic expressions that Canadians relate to.

For example, in Québec, professional translators know that there is no harmonized sales tax or that common law is replaced with the Code civil, so they adjust their translations accordingly. An English to French translation done by a professional translator from abroad may ignore those subtleties.

  • As foreign competitors put a downward pressure on prices, Canadian professional translators are forced to reduce their rate.

But the industry rates have been stagnant and the value for translation services is still very often based on a word count without taking into account all the work that has to be done besides replacing an English word with a French word (terminology research, management and communications with clients for example), so this pressure is making professional translator struggle to earn a salary that reflects their qualifications.

Possible Solutions

There are ways to reduce translation costs without resorting to low cost translation services and without compromising quality. By developing a trust relationship with a translation agency that works with professional translators based in the country where your target audience live, like Francisation InterGlobe, you can reduce your long-term translation costs. On one hand, the better the translator knows your account and your preferences, the faster he or she translates. And on the other hand, translation memories and other computer-assisted translation tools are helping improve efficiency without compromising quality, which translates into long-term savings for the clients.