Chinese translation and Japanese translation costs compared. 

by amy perry Saturday, January 22, 2011
Translation is an art form requiring professional skill that cannot be replicated with free software or inexperienced translators, however similar work by consummate professionals often has very different costs, something that might not be obvious at first glance. Take the examples of Chinese translation and Japanese translation to illustrate why different languages can have very different costs to produce.

While both languages have similar characteristics, have similar character to English word ratios, can be used with CAT tools and translation memory exchange, the difference in cost might surprise you. Japanese translation typically costs 25 to 50 percent more than Chinese translation. Clients often don’t understand why some languages are cheap to produce and others are more costly. This has less to do with firms trying to gouge customers than the simple laws of supply and demand.

A basic rule of translation is that translators must only translate into their mother tongue. So, for example, Chinese native speakers should only offer English to Chinese translation and never Chinese to English translation. Similarly, native Japanese translators should offer only English to Japanese translation and never Japanese to English translation as the output would be very unauthentic, even for those with a mastery of English. This means that to translate these languages, one must find a native speaker with a mastery of English. In some cases, Chinese and Japanese translators working aboard fit the bill but in most cases, in-country linguists are required.

And that is where the laws of economics come into play. Japan is a very high-income country with a population much smaller than China and as it might follow the supply of qualified translators offering Japanese translation services is much lower than the case of China. Japanese translators also require far higher rates per word to justify the time spent due simply to the higher cost of living in Japan. The case of Chinese translation is quite different. At present, China has an abundance of qualified translators and the cost of living is relatively low. In as much, a Chinese translator can charge less (and is forced to do so due to higher competition) while still maintaining a good living standard.

However, the biggest factor remains the supply of qualified linguists in the labor pool. Many African languages, though spoken in the world’s poorest countries, are the most expensive to produce due to a near total shortage of quality translators. In as much, the few qualified translators that exist can often command 2 to 3 times the rate of what even Japanese translators can expect according to market norms.

Resource Box: If you are looking for a quality Chinese translation or Japanese translation there are many services available, but some are clearly better than others.

General | Categories: culture
0    submitted by amy perry
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