Whether the translations are offered by freelance translators or translation agencies, translation prices are set based on a number of criteria.
Here are the key points to understand how a translation price is determined.

  • The language pair: i.e. the linguistic combination of the source language (original language of the text) and the target language (the language to which the text must be translated).
    E.g.: translating French into English is less expensive than French to Arabic or Cantonese. Why? Because the ability to translate to English is much more widespread. What’s more, concerning certain target languages, they have alphabets which require more work when it comes to page formatting in the final document.
  • The delivery deadline: If the translation project has urgent deadline requirements, requiring nights and weekends, for example, the price of the translation will often be augmented.
  • The number of words:
    Before being translated or being used to create a quote, the number of words contained in a source document is counted precisely. This global volume is known as the “gross volume”. Proper nouns, numbers, and sometimes recurrent expressions treated by CAT tools (Computer Assisted Translation) are subtracted from the gross volume. The result, the “net volume” is what a translation price is based on.

In order to diminish the management costs for missions with only small amounts of text to translate, it isn’t rare for an agency to have base rates.
Conversely, very large volumes of text may allow for much more competitive rates.

  • The recurrency: Following the same logic as large volume translations, recurring translations are often afforded discounted rates, for the following reasons:
    • mastered project management due to recurring nature
    • expressions and terms which have already been translated, learned, and integrated into CAT tools which allow for savings as per the translation costs.
  • The file formats / diversity of documents: The easiest file type to translate is a simple Word document without any (or at least little) page formatting. Working from html or pdf documents require an upstream extraction of the content, and this step comes at a cost.. Moreover, translating 10 separate documents of 100 is more costly to translate than a single document of 1,000 words!
  • The speciality: Depending on the activity or type of document (activity reports, whitepages, user guides, etc.), it may be necessary to call on specialized translators with the correct mastery of codes and jargon. E.g. medical, financial, legal translations, etc.

For sworn translation (also known as certified translations), a translation agency uses a translator authorized by the Court, the only actor capable of translating a document with a legal value. The price of a sworn translation is variable, still according to the previously stated elements, but also according to the nature of the documents. As an example, the price of a quality translation handled by a specialized agency for a certified birth certificate or marriage certificate is less than 34 euros (for English to French, or French to English translations) – https://traductions-assermentees.com/en/your-translation/.

The question of German

Why do French to German translations cost more than many other European languages (English, Italian, Spanish)?

Because translating to German significantly increases the volume of text (when compared to the source volume).

Moreover, if the final volume has certain restraints (technical rules for integrating into a web site, templates in order to maintain the source design, etc.), the German translation will require a huge amount of reinterpreting in order to meet the constraints while maintaining the intention of the source document.
The price of a translation to German is thus, naturally, higher.

Did you know…?

A translator handles more than 2,000 words per day once a mission has been launched.
Therefore, a project of 4,000 words will take 2 work days, or even 3 if a proofreading or quality control service is requested.

*Before launching your project, reach out to professional translators, and don’t hesitate to request a translation online; a number of professional sites offer such services, allowing you to compare the price and details of each offer. Pay close attention, in any case, to the quality of the translations!