Basic Translation Principles You Should Know

translation resources

There are lots of misunderstandings when it comes to translation and the translation industry. For instance, it’s easy to think that translation just is writing the equivalence of words between two languages, but it’s more than that.

Without going into too many complicated topics (i.e. translation theory; look for a more detailed description of the translation process soon), this site’s resources will teach you with honesty the basic translation principles you should know. Then, you can decide which translation services work best for your needs.

The one thing everyone is curious about is how much should they should pay for translation work. First, think about the goals you want to accomplish. In other words, how important is the translation to you and your clients/audience?

If you can’t afford much and are just trying to get by with anything, then think of doing automatic machine translation. However, recognize the risks that are there. If translation plays a necessary role in making your product stand out and communicating with your market, then you’re going to have to look into better options.

According to figures from, the average rate per word for translations from English to Spanish is 11 cents. Some of the prime factors that determine the cost can include translator experience and the subject matter of the translation. Remember that if you want excellent quality, then you don’t want to risk cutting you or the translator short by demanding minuscule rates. But you also don’t need to pay 25 cents a word in order to obtain quality work.

Subject matter influences rates because it can complicate the translation process. As listed at the beginning, translation work isn’t always straight forward and sometimes just a short paragraph or two can take a translator over an hour. Direct translations aren’t always best (figurative ones may be necessary), and almost everything has more than one way it can be translated. The translator and client need to work together (preferably before even beginning the project) to determine the specifics that are to be done.

For instance, you have a couple of options with acronyms. Translators first have to find out if it’s appropriate to translate the acronym for the audience, or if there is already an official acronym translation. For example, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Agreement) is OTAN in Spanish. So, translators can either leave the acronym in the original language (called the source text), leave the acronym but explain it in the target text inside parenthesis, or use a translated acronym.

The last basic principle of translation has to do with localization. In short, translation and adaptation are the two components of localization, but you can read more about localization here.

Feel free to leave any questions below.

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