FAQ for Translation – Frequently Asked Questions

We have gathered some of the most common questions that people ask us in a special page of FAQ for translation. Each one has a brief answer with a link to a more detailed description.

If you can’t find the answer you are looking for, ask us and we’d be happy to oblige.

Translation FAQ - All you need to kow


What different kinds of translation are there?

Translation may be written or oral. Oral translation is often called interpretation. Written translation can be certified or not, and comes in a range of procedures: a novel will not be translated in the same way as a letter, a law or a web site.
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How much does translation cost?

That depends whether it is written, certified or oral, the languages involved, the subject and the procedure you need for your purpose, among other things. Ask and we will make you a quote rapidly.
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What is good translation?

The approach depends on the purpose and context: a contract needs a special form of precision, of conformity to the original; for an advertising slogan it may be best to ignore the original text and find entirely new ways to express the same idea so the new audience will both understand and appreciate it. Most tasks lie between these extremes.
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How do we measure the size of a document to be translated?

A document is usually measured by the number of pages or words. When comparing prices, be careful about this measurement, some companies use non-standard measures. Certified translations, of e.g. certificates are often counted simply by the physical page.
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What is a translation page?

The length of a page of text depends on the paper size, margins, font and line spacing. For measurement purposes, we often use a ‘translation page’. This is an industry standard consisting of 1,500 characters without spaces or 1,800 with. (Beware, some companies use other definitions.)
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What does a translator look for in a text?

A good translator takes care of: meaning; terminology; grammar; lexical cohesion and phraseology; style; register (the degree of formality); language variants; local conventions; target group and purpose of the document.
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How much does written translation cost?

The price per word depends on the language combination; the subject or type of text; the quality you need for your purpose; the urgency of the task. Certified translation will typically cost a little more. Our typical prices start from €0.04 ($0.05) per word.
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What kinds of interpretation are there?

There are two kinds of interpretation: consecutive and simultaneous. In consecutive translation the speaker pauses for the interpreter to translate. Simultaneous translation is continuous, the interpreter speaks at the same time as the speaker, requiring equipment (microphone, headphones).
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Can I get an interpreter to come wherever I need one?

Sometimes you may need an interpreter to come to your location such as a court, a notary’s office or a wedding. Our interpreters can cover the whole of Serbia, the south-east European region or pretty well anywhere if needed. Nowadays many meetings and conferences are online, so the interpreter’s physical location is unimportant.
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How much does interpretation cost?

Prices depend on the language and location. For simultaneous translation such as conference interpretation, interpreters work in pairs: they switch every quarter hour or so, as the job requires tremendous concentration.
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What are standard deadlines for delivering translations?

This depends on the size and complexity of the job. A translator can normally translate around 7 translation pages per day. Revising this for quality assurance may be around twice as fast. Depending on the urgency, we agree on the best procedure with the client.
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Can exceptions be made for deadlines, and how does that affect the process?

Large, urgent documents can be divided between several translators, but each will have their own style, so consistency may suffer. The result can be revised by a single linguist, which also takes time though it can partly be done at the same time. As always, time, quality and price are interlinked.
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What languages do we translate from and to?

Our most common languages are all European languages, and others such as Chinese, Hebrew, Arabic and Korean. But we work with just about all languages. We always have a good translator even for the most unusual language combination.
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Can I get a translation into several languages?

We can translate a document into as many languages as you need. This can be directly, or via a relay language, which many choose as it is often far more cost-effective. Ask for a quote and you may be pleasantly surprised.
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What is a certified translation?

A certified translation is provided by an officially authorised translator, who guarantees its accuracy. It is bound with the original (sometimes with a copy) and stamped with an official seal. It may be required for registering births, marriages and deaths, for notarising documents or for official applications.
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Who can provide a sworn or certified translation?

This is different from country to country. In Serbia, only translators appointed by the Ministry of Justice or provincial authority can provide sworn translations. In the UK there is no government arrangement and in some countries they do not exist at all. Halifax works with sworn translators for many languages.
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Can I get a certified translation between any two languages?

That depends what you need it for. For example, a Serbian authority will want certification by a Serbian government-appointed sworn translator. These may only work between Serbian and one other language. A translation from say French to English will therefore need first to be translated from French to Serbian by one sworn translator, then from Serbian to English by another. Other countries’ authorities will each have their own requirements.
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How is a certified translation different from a notarised document?

A public notary in Serbia cannot certify a translation. They may certify that a document is a true copy, or that a signature is valid and provided by the person who signs. For documents in a language other than Serbian to be notarised, a sworn translation is often required.
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How much does a certified translation cost?

That depends on the language and other factors. Typically it costs a little more than a non-certified translation, and is charged by the physical page for e.g. certificates.
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What is quality in translation?

Translation is never just right or wrong. Language is so complex that no two translators will ever translate a page in the same way, and quality can vary from poor to excellent. The purpose of the document may demand imagination and poetic skill, or precise knowledge of technical terms.
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When should I ask for especially high quality translation?

The quality you need depends on what your text is for. To understand a memo is not demanding, but a contract must be precise. An advertising text, or published work must be almost perfect, since weaknesses may have long-lasting negative effects on your brand image.
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What quality assurance mechanisms are there in translation?

The translation standard ISO17100 specifies mechanisms like revision and review. For highly demanding purposes several iterations or back-translation with comparison can be applied. Other forms of QA can be through CAT tools, or proofing tools.
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What is revision?

Revision is a procedure in which a second translator makes a thorough re-reading of source and target texts, checking correspondence between them in all aspects, correcting mistakes and improving the text. Revision is required for a process to conform to the ISO 17100 standard.
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What is ‘the four eyes’ principle?

The expression “four eyes” refers to the fact that two separate translators have worked on the same text, usually as a translator and a reviser. This is a quality assurance mechanism central to the translation standard ISO17100.
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What is proofreading?

‘Proofreading’ has various definitions. It usually means a final check of a text to ensure it is ready for printing (reading the printing “proofs”). This does not involve the accuracy of a translation so much as spotting awkward phrases, grammatical mistakes, typos and other minor errors.
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What is a professional review?

A review is a reading of the translated text by a subject professional, to ensure that the terms, phrases and style are good practice in the professional field: e.g. a lawyer checking a contract, an engineer checking a bill of quantities, or an art historian reviewing an exhibition text.
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What is the translation standard ISO17100

The standard ISO17100 (formerly EN15038), concerns quality of the translation process. It defines procedures to be used: a systematic approach, continuous improvement mechanisms, qualifications and testing of translators, and the combination of services that ensure a good translation.
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What is the quality management standard ISO9001?

ISO9001 is the general quality management standard aimed at by all good companies. Certification by an auditing body is based on quality management principles. Using ISO 9001 helps ensure that customers receive consistent, good quality services.
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What can I do if I am not satisfied with a translation?

We do our very best to ensure good quality translations, but we know that anyone can make a mistake. Tell us if you are not satisfied and we will make every effort to solve the problem. Please try to identify exactly what the problem is, so we can address it effectively.
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What is ‘trans-creation’?

This is a clumsy term for a translation that is especially creative. It is often used for web sites or adverts where a new language must appeal to a different audience with a different culture. This needs considerable creativity to appeal to people with different norms and familiar metaphors.
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What is a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool?

CAT tools are computer programs that use and generate ‘translation memories’. They suggest how a phrase has previously been translated. This can save time and improve consistency, so a given phrase is not unintentionally translated in several different ways. We use several such tools.
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What computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools do translators use?

There are a number of common CAT tools on the market: MemoQ, MemSource, SDL Trados, Deja Vu, Smartcat, Matecat, Across, OmegaT, Wordfast… Some of the larger translation companies use their own custom applications. Halifax runs a MemoQ server and often uses SDL Trados.
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What is machine translation?

Machine translation (MT) is a computer using artificial intelligence to translate a text. Their quality has been improving rapidly in recent years. They have good vocabulary but lack some advantages of the human brain, sometimes giving bizarre results. MT should always be carefully edited.
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Can I use Google Translate?

That depends what you use it for. This is one example of machine translation that is publicly available at no cost. Its quality has recently been improving fast. It has a good vocabulary but can also misunderstand a phrase completely. Don’t use it for a language you don’t understand.
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How do we organise a written translation task?

Our project managers check the text, define the exact task with the client, select the procedure and make an offer. They prepare the text, identify suitable translators for the subject, coordinate the work and check it before delivery. They follow up with the client, and give feedback to the translators.
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Do translators have special knowledge of clients’ professional fields?

Yes. Many translators have their special fields of knowledge. We work with a large number of them to ensure the right ones for each job.
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What makes a good translator?

A good translator is not just a person who knows two languages, but one who knows how to use them – a good writer who can express things accurately and naturally. The translator must be sensitive to the purpose and style of each document.
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Why are values so important in doing business?

Our values underlie everything we do. Business needs trust, and we strive to create it through relationships of honesty, transparency, respect and sustainability.
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