Translation Services FAQs

Translation Services FAQs

General Questions

Q: My administrative assistant speaks Portuguese. Can he translate my sales brochure?

A: He might be able to handle the job well, but in our experience, there are many language and competency issues at work here. Generally speaking, knowing one language doesn’t make someone a writer any more than knowing two languages makes someone a translator.

If you have just received a fax from Brazil, your assistant could probably do a great job of providing you with a summary translation. This same person would likely be a poor choice to recreate your company’s brochure in Portuguese.

Q: Can ALTA handle industry-specific technical translations?

A: Absolutely. We translate technical manuals, schematics, patents, material safety data sheets and other documents from many technical fields. ALTA’s technical translation specialists are degreed professionals in their industries.

Even the best technical dictionaries are a few years behind the current technology. Good technical translators maintain their own collection of industry-specific magazines and news clippings to keep up with new terminology. As technical specialists, we maintain a library of materials to support our translators and clients.

Pricing and Quotations

Q: Do you charge for quotations?

A: Never. Quotations are always free.

Q: How are your translations priced? How much do you charge per page?

A: All translation charges are calculated on a per-word basis with the rate being determined by the language in question, the turnaround time and the nature of the subject matter. Standard rates are applied to most translations; however, a surcharge of 2¢-5¢ per word may be added to highly technical or industry-specific projects. A minimum charge is applied to translation projects containing fewer than approximately 300 words in the target language. We do not charge for translation services on a per-page basis because of the inherent inconsistency in the number of words per page from one document to another. Differences in fonts, point size, leading, and margins all prevent the practical use of per-page rates for obvious reasons.

Q: How do you price other services?

A: Desktop publishing, localization engineering, interpreting, and most other services are priced on an hourly basis. Minimum charges may apply for short projects under an hour. Larger projects may have a project management fee, which is often a percentage of the overall project.

Q: Why does ALTA have minimum charges for translations?

A: Minimum charges are a translation industry standard. Small translation projects aren’t economically viable for translators or agencies when priced using a straight per-word calculation method. Our minimum charge is $85.00 to $125.00 depending on the language.

Certified Documents

Q: I have been told that I will need a “certified” translation. Can you provide this certification, and, if so, how much does it cost?

A: Yes, we do provide certified translations. When a document is being used for immigration, admission to institutions of higher learning, or for some legal or “official” purpose, a certified translation is appropriate. We certify our documents by placing a printed statement on the back of each translated page which states that the translation is complete and accurate, to the best of our knowledge. This certification contains the signatures of the department director and a notary public, and is stamped with a raised notary seal. This ensures that the document in question will be accepted as a valid translation for legal purposes. There is no additional charge for this service.

Q: I have a document that I translated myself and I would like to pay ALTA to certify it for me. Can you do this, and how much does it cost?

A: To certify a document is to vouch for its contents. We cannot certify translations performed by non-ALTA translators and personnel without proofing the translation against the source. Certification carries no extra cost when the translation is done by ALTA.

Globalization, Internationalization and Localization

Q: What are the differences between globalization, internationalization and localization?

A: Many different definitions exist for these terms. Add to that the frequent use of one term when another was more appropriate, and you have a recipe for confusion. In a software and website context:

Globalization refers to the overall process of adapting your website or software for the global market. The term is used when speaking generally about the business, technical, and linguistic activities involved in making this happen.

Internationalization is the process of generalizing a website or software so that it is ready to handle multiple languages and cultural conventions without the need for re-design. Properly implemented, this takes place at the design and development level.

Localization is the process of adapting a website or software so that it is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the country or region where it will be used.

Using these definitions: You would internationalize a website before you localized it, and refer to the entire project as the globalization of your website.

Q: What do the abbreviations g11n, i18n and L10n mean?

A: These are the common abbreviations for globalization (g11n), internationalization (i18n) and localization (L10n). The numbers represent a count of the letters between the first and last letters in the term. “Internationalization,” for example, has eighteen letters between the “i” and “n.” While awkward, they certainly are faster to type.

Working with Chinese, Japanese and Korean Text

Q: If I have something translated into Chinese, Japanese or Korean, will I be able to view and print the text when I receive it from you?

A: Most likely, yes.

Systems and Software Supported

Q: What type of computer systems and software do you support?

A: ALTA supports both PC and MAC platforms. We also support a wide array of operating systems and desktop publishing software. If you have technical questions about our ability to handle your project, please contact us to discuss the specifics.

Our Translators

Q: I have heard that it’s important to use certified translators. Are your translators certified?

A: There are a number of private agencies in the United States that offer certification to translators if they are able to pass the agency’s examination and are willing to pay the certification fee. The most prominent of these is the American Translators Association. Although the majority of ALTA’s translators are certified by one or more of these agencies, we do not require it because there is little relationship between passing these exams and writing style or quality. In fact, most of these certification exams test for minimum competency only.

You may be confusing the need to use a certified translator with receiving certified documents. Any document ALTA translates can be certified to serve for any legal purpose.

Q: Does ALTA use native speakers or computer software programs to perform its translations? Can you recommend some good translation software?

A: We use native speakers proficient in both the target and source languages. Translation assistance software is used where appropriate, but ALTA does not currently provide any type of machine translation services.

We have no recommendations for translation software. Some off-the-shelf or web-based translation products can create gist translations of simple business correspondence, which might work for in-house-only documents. Never use a product like this to translate a document that will be used to represent you. If your clients or vendors are going to see it, then have it professionally translated.

Q: How do you know that a translator is good?

A: First and foremost, good translators have a solid command of grammar and syntax in both the source and target languages. Good translators only translate materials into their native language (very few people are gifted enough to handle bi-directional projects). Good translators have a knack for balancing the content of the source document with the cultural and language-specific norms of the target language, and have the experience to know when to favor one concern over the other. Good translators keep their language skills current by reading newspapers, magazines, and professional journals from their native country that set the norms for current usage.

Translation requires a tremendous amount of care and attention to detail. Many people assume that fluency in a given language is sufficient to qualify them as a translator, but that is not the case.

Good translations read as if they were authored in the target language. Anything less is generally a sign that the translator has missed the mark.

Our Process

Q: What is your process for translation and localization projects?

A. Most non-software and non-web-related projects follow our basic process. Software and web localization projects are more involved and follow our localization process.

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