Question: How long does it take to translate 1,000 words from language A to language B?
Short answer: One day. In most cases, send your text in the morning and receive the translation in the afternoon.
Imagine that a company in the electrical engineering industry has 8,000 words of text that they want translated from Finnish into English, German, and Russian. It will be used for training material, and they need it back as soon as possible.
In reality, the quality and the speed of that translation depend on many, many variables which I will go through below.
There are two terms we need to define first: source text = the text we receive from you, and target language = the language you want the text to be translated into.
How to REALLY calculate how long a translation takes
- The language pairs: a translator specialized in the subject matter of the text can translate between 1,000 and 2,000 words a day, depending on the length of the words. Lengths vary a lot from one language to another. For example, Russian, German, and Finnish in general have longer words than English, which is full of short words like the, by, on, in, etc. Finnish has compound words like lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilasi which translates literally into English as 10 words: airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student. So, you can see that languages with compound words usually take longer to translate.
- Subject matter: if the translator is an expert in the subject matter, then a document might be faster to translate because there is less unknown terminology to be checked and cross-referenced.
- New client: if the client is a new one for the translation agency, the translator will need to check the client company’s website and other available reference material to determine the tone of voice the company uses in their marketing and other language preferences. (Does the company use British or American English, for example?) This is why it is good for companies to have their own style guide detailing their language preferences.
- Translation memory: if the client is an existing one, the translator should have access to a translation memory from previous translations. For example, maybe the client decided in previous translations that they want the Finnish word asiakas always translated as customer, not client. The translator will check the new text against the translation memory provided by the translation agency, to ensure the quality of the translation.
- The review: a native reviewer should check the translated text. That will take between 5 and 6 hours for our example 8,000-word text, depending on the complexity of the text – highly technical texts take longer than non-technical ones.
- The quality of the source text: as part of our translation service, our project managers will always let the client know if something in their source text is incorrect, or uses bad grammar, is misspelled, and so on. We're here to help ensure the quality of the translation is as high as its speed.
Finally, all changes, corrections, or queries need to be factored in – they can originate from the translator to the customer, the reviewer to the translator, the project manager to the customer, and so on. With the 8,000 words in our example, there will definitely be many items to check on.
How we deliver fast, high quality translations
- Specialized translators
Our professional translation service has a network of over 3,500 vendors globally covering every major (and minor) industry and subject. We can find a translator for your specialized text when you need it. And if we can’t, our dedicated team of project managers will advise you.
We translate over 75 million words a year across 450 language pairs. That’s equivalent to translating 200,000 words a day, every day of the year! We understand what it takes to deliver high-quality translations on time in huge volumes.
- A commitment to quality service
Our smooth processes, efficient use of translation memory tools, in-house native review for major languages, and dedicated project managers for all translation jobs mean you can achieve the optimal translation – one that has both speed and quality!
To find out more about how we work, how we deliver on time, and how we can help you to get your text translated the way you want it, when you want it, please contact us.
We’d be delighted to tell you more or to arrange a test translation.