Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a price list? Do you translate from German into English?
Do you translate into other languages
than German?
Can I get a fixed bid for my translation project?
Do you use translation memory tools? What are your translation memory discounts?
Why do you ask so many questions
about the source text?
Do you need the source text in Word or
can I send you a fax or a PDF file?

Q: Do you have a price list?
A: I don’t have one fixed charge for all the different kinds of translation jobs. Each translation has its own challenges, and I need to see the material before I can quote a price. Click on Quotes to find out more about the factors that go into a translation.

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Q: Do you translate from German into English?
A: No. I’m a German native speaker and only translate into my native language.

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Q: Do you translate into other languages than German?
A: Personally, I only translate from English into German. If you need your material translated into additional languages, we can discuss bringing qualified native translator colleagues to the project, if that’s what you’d like to do.

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Q: Why do you ask so many questions about the source text?
A: No one reads a text more closely than translators read their source material. If there are any ambiguities that can’t be resolved through context, the translator has to ask questions. The less context your material has, the more questions you can expect; material with plenty of context usually speaks for itself. Keep in mind how long it took to create the original English source and how many eyes looked at it before it was approved. A translation is no less complex but is usually expected to be accomplished in a much shorter time by fewer people. Therefore a good translator will have questions.

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Q: Can I get a fixed bid for my translation project?
A: In the U.S., it’s customary to calculate translation charges by the number of words – either in the source text or in the target text. Personally, I prefer to quote by the volume of the source text since it makes the pricing process more transparent.

For certain jobs it’s not possible to determine the source volume easily (such as for source material that isn’t in electronic form). Sometimes the nature of the material doesn’t lend itself to per-word charges. Steps such as editing and research need to be charged on a per-hour basis. And at other times client deadlines require overnight or weekend work, which carries a surcharge.

For projects with no foreseeable additional changes in the source material, I’m happy to quote a fixed price.

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Q: Do you use translation memory tools?
A: I have and use translation memory (TM) tools. However, the nature of your project will determine whether a TM tool is a sensible choice. Some material is well suited for TM tools, while other material may even suffer from the use of TM. TM tools help to achieve greater consistency in terminology and style with large projects that have a certain amount of repetition. They’re less suitable for small projects or material such as newsletters, marketing text, or advertising copy.

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Q: What are your translation memory discounts?
A: The short answer: I’m not inclined to give discounts. For material that can be reasonably translated with TM tools, the real gain lies in consistency of expression and terminology, which I don’t believe is a justification for discounts.

The long answer: One of the misconceptions among many translation service clients is that translation memory software flags matches that don’t have to be looked at anymore and should therefore be discounted or, in extreme cases, not be paid at all. In reality, however, it doesn’t work that way. TM matches are a double-edged sword. In my experience, the majority of memories are poorly maintained – if at all. A translation memory is only as useful as the time and money invested to keep it clean, accurate, and up-to-date. Moreover, matches in the source language are not necessarily matches in the translation. This can lead to wide discrepancies and outright errors in the selection of terminology, gender, number, and inflected forms.

While it’s true that 100-percent matches in all likelihood don’t have to be re-translated from scratch, they still require time and effort to verify spelling and grammar, to decide whether it’s actually a match in the target language, and to carry out any necessary changes. With partial matches it’s often more time consuming to correct the “fuzziness” than it would be to re-translate the segment.

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Q: Do you need the source text in Word or can I send you a fax or a PDF file?
A: I need to work from electronic files. PDF files are, in the words of the format’s inventor Adobe, “electronic paper” and fall into the same category as hard copies or fax transmissions: it’s not possible to work directly with the content.

I will accept your project on paper, but I’ll charge more for the additional work involved in converting the content to an electronic file. You should also be aware that it’s not possible to simply put a translation back into the layout of a PDF file. For that, you need the application and the files from which the PDF document was originally created.

PDF files are often used as reference for the layout. If you have such a PDF file, please send it to me together with the electronic content file. Being able to look at the final layout with all images and charts can be helpful in the translation process.

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