Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are your specialist areas?
Q. Do you also translate books?
Q. Do you also edit and correct documents that are already in English?
Q. Do you also do translations into French and German?
Q. Do you edit machine translations?
Q. Do you do language combinations with languages other than
French, German, Dutch and English?
Q. Do you translate documents with a mix of languages?
Q. What are sworn translations and do you do them?
Q. What are back-translations and are they necessary?
Q. Why do you have a minimum fee?
Q. What is included in the word count?
Q. Why do you offer a lower rate to translation agencies?
Q. What if I've only got a few changes to a document you translated earlier?
Q. Do you apply discounts for fuzzy matches?
Q. Is the work subject to VAT?
Q. How long does a translation take?
Q. How long does it take to edit a document?
Q. What else do I need to provide when I send you a translation?
Q. What if I have questions after you've delivered the translation or edit?
Q. What is CAT?
Q. What CAT tools do you use?
Q. Can I send you a scan of a paper document?
Q. Can you translate HTML files?
Q. Can you translate XML files?
Q. What makes a good translation?
Q. How can I be sure of the quality of your translation?
Q. Do you include localization?
A: Because there are three translators in the company, with very different backgrounds, we are genuinely able to offer a much broader range of specialist fields than any single freelancer can. The following are all areas in which we have handled large numbers of jobs:
medical, pharmaceutical and healthcare, technical, IT and computers, financial, business, sport, art, heritage and history.
A: Yes we do. We have translated a variety of books in the following fields: biographical, business and management, fine arts, historical fiction, interior design, technology and civil engineering. (Click here for more details).
A: We edit and correct documents that have been written in English by non-native speakers. A common example is papers written for publication in academic journals. We also check translations into English from French, German or Dutch. Because the amount of work can be very variable, depending on the complexity of the material and the level of the author's English, this is generally done on an hourly basis. A distinction also needs to be made between correcting (sorting out the grammar, spelling, sentence structure, number or date formats, etc.) and editing (also looking at the document structure, expressing the thoughts clearly, etc.)..
Please note that this does not include sorting out machine translations such as Google Translate -click here for more information.
A: We operate on the "mother tongue" principle, because the best translation results can only be obtained when a native speaker is involved in the end result. So we do not offer that combination directly ourselves. However we do of course have contacts who we work with regularly so we can arrange such translations for you if need be.
A: We can do this, naturally, but machine translations (such as Google Translate) do not as yet produce good enough output for normal editing. For this we would still need the source text in the original language too. We do such editing on an hourly bases and in practice it takes so long to do that you are probably going to get a better result for much the same price by getting your text properly translated. We will however happily give you a quotation for the work.
A: We can arrange such combinations although we would normally only do so if this is part of a job in which we are also doing some of the translation ourselves. In other words, we do not normally act solely as an intermediary. However we have an extensive network of contacts for translations into other languages and have handled jobs involving translation into up to ten languages. The timelines for jobs we cannot handle directly may be somewhat longer.
A: Mixed-language documents do occur regularly within the combinations we offer, in Belgium and Switzerland in particular. A Flemish-speaking doctor who fills in a French medical form in Dutch, a French-speaking official who fills in a German customs declaration... Yes, we can translate those into English and for the word counts we will treat it as a single document.
A: Sworn translations are translations that have been officially stamped by a translator who is registered with the local courts to say that they are a true and accurate representation of the original. We have not yet found demand for these to be high enough for it to be worthwhile registering, so we do not do sworn translations.
A: Back-translations is when the translated document is converted back into the original language by a second independent translator without reference to the original document. The customer can then compare the two and ask for any discrepancies to be ironed out: it is therefore a quality control mechanism. Naturally enough, it is a more expensive method, but is widely used in fields where quality control is essential, such as medicine information leaflets and survey questionnaires.
A: It's like your plumber's call-out fee: no matter how small the job, there are unavoidable costs. Time spent handling the e-mails and administration of the job plus the invoicing, and the overheads for the bank charges and the accountants. We therefore apply a minimum fee of €30.
A: The word count is based on a computerized count of the number of words in the source text (as given by MS Word or other package used for analysis). This therefore includes both the complex terminology and the proper names and the numbers and all the small linking words. The pricing assumes a sensible mix of these; if your document consists largely of tables of dates and numbers, there might well be a case for lowering the price. Similarly, if it is a list of complicated aeronautical terms in a spreadsheet with no context, the price may well have to be higher.
Non-editable elements such as the tags in an HTML document are not counted.
A: This is largely because we have to arrange checks by the second native speaker if we are delivering the translation directly to the final customer; in the case of agencies this is the agency's responsibility. The basic role of a translation agency is as a project manager, not usually as a translator (they may have some translation capacity of their own, but obviously not for all combinations - they rely largely on freelancers). The agencies are liable for proof-reading and reviewing and they bear the risks associated with the end customer.
A: This is a relatively common situation: for example, a company's general terms and conditions have been updated, or a rental agreement has been modified for a new client. We can offer very substantial discounts in such situations, because we maintain 'translation memories' of the texts we have previously translated. These let us pick out the changes very easily. If you change the order of a list or even if you have shifted complete paragraphs around, the same translations will be given in the new sequence. This is the same mechanism as the 'repeats' and 'fuzzy matches'. Click here for more information.
A: If a document contains large amounts of internal repetition (at the level of complete sentences or bullets, not individual words), then we can offer a quotation that takes this into account. If we have previously translated a similar document for you, or an earlier version of the same document, then there may also be repetitions or near-repetitions (known as 'fuzzy matches'); we can also make allowances for these. What counts as a 'fuzzy' match is determined automatically by our translation software (CAT tools). The discounts can be substantial: see our 'rates' page for more information.
A: Dutch VAT of 21% is applicable to all jobs for customers in the Netherlands (with some specific exceptions define by the tax authorities) and to all jobs for customers elsewhere in the EU who do not have their own VAT registration number. VAT does not apply outside the EU.
A: It depends on how busy we are and when we can plan it in, of course. And we're usually heavily booked. Very small jobs (minimum fee, a few sentences or one A4) can if necessary generally be done within a day or so. Larger jobs (ten pages, 5000 words plus) may often need a week or more to plan in properly. For what it's worth: a translator can handle perhaps 400 or 500 words an hour at a reasonable level of quality.
A: It depends on how busy we are and when we can plan it in, of course. And we're usually heavily booked. The amount of time taken for the same number or words can be very variable, depending on the complexity of the material and the level of the author's English, this is generally done on an hourly basis. As a rough guide, a corrector can handle perhaps 1200 to 1500 words an hour at a reasonable level of quality; for editing work 800 to 1200 is more likely.
A: The more information you give us, the better. If you tell us the target readership is the general public for marketing purposes, we will know to avoid heavy scientific terminology when there's a choice. If it's targeted at children or young adults, the use of language may need to be different. If your previous communications have referred to "clients", we'll know not to call them the "customers". And of course, a specialist may well know the terminology for their field in the foreign language better than any translator. So please think of the following:
- American or British English ( or a "mid-Atlantic" that suits either)
- purpose (marketing, website, technical manual...)
- target audience (in particular whether it's for native speakers or not)
- preferred terminology
- as well as the obvious aspects such as the source files and the deadline
A: CAT stands for 'computer-aided translation', meaning various software tools that can help the human translator work more quickly and more consistently, largely by automatically pointing out how they have translated the same or similar sentences and phrases in the past (for this particular end client, or in this particular context, etc.). What it most emphatically does not mean is machine translation (MT) such as Google Translate.
A: We currently run three of the main CAT tools: memoQ, Studio 2009 and Trados. We also have experience with various others.
A: Yes, as long as the resolution is good enough for it to be properly readable. We generally then have to spend a certain amount of time with our OCR package to convert it into a Word document before starting, so there may be a small surcharge.
A: Yes. If your website is available as HTML files, we can work with those. The tags are not included in the word count. However, please note that this may not necessarily cover everything that appears on the screen (Flash content, dynamic scripts, texts within images) and there may also be other information such as meta-tags that you do want included. There may also be substantial needless repetition, particularly if your webmaster keeps the information in a content management system (CMS). For these reasons, we do prefer a simple Word document containing the texts you want translated.
A: Properly structured XML files with a corresponding definition file can be translated. The tags are not included in the word count.
A: The obvious key points are that the translator needs to be thoroughly fluent in the target language and needs to understand the material (many people are surprised to hear that absolute fluency in the source language is a distant third). And we know our limitations: if we can't do it well, we won't do it at all. Other crucial points for you to keep in mind are:
- good source text: if it doesn't say quite what you meant, neither will the translation
- good instructions: tell us what you want (target group, US or UK, preferred terms, etc.)
- good planning: quality is inevitably put at risk if the job is rushed
A: The simplest proof that we offer high-quality translations is that we are still flourishing after ten years in this highly competitive business, with more clients than ever, and a permanently full order book. Naturally, the agencies we work for would be shooting themselves in the foot by recommending us, but we can still point to the repeat business, the large numbers of personal endorsements from freelance colleagues on LinkedIn, the unblemished list of "Would Work With Again" entries on Proz.com (the world's biggest translators' forum), the fact that we get enough word-of-mouth recommendations that we don't have to advertise, and the list of published books. For more information on how we achieve a consistently high level of quality, please see our Quality Assurance page.
A: As far as we're concerned, localization is an implicit part of any good translation. If a Dutch source text refers to a Dutch football team, a Dutch TV personality, a Dutch advertising campaign or traditional Dutch food and drink, then you cannot simply transfer that to the new context: it will be meaningless or confusing. Depending on the type of material, such items will either need to be explained (preferably by working them into the text, rather than with e.g. ugly footnotes) or converted into an English equivalent with similar cultural values and overtones. Please see our Localization page for more on this fascinating and challenging subject.