This post has been translated by our very own Elisa Orellana Huhn!
‘How long does this take?’ is one of the most common questions in service delivery. Often the difference in those delivery dates is what makes up your mind.
The same happens with translation.
If you need to translate a text, you will probably be asking yourself, “How long does it take to translate this?”.
The most common method is to calculate the time by the number of words or pages in the text. However, other elements may affect delivery time.
This article aims to show you the elements that factor in when setting deadlines for a translation service. This will help you estimate how long it will take to receive your order.
Of course, if you need to know exactly how long it takes to translate your specific text, you can ask us when requesting a quote.
How long does translation take? What factors into the schedule of a translation?
- Word amount
- Text specialization
- Original file format
- Translator availability
Here are some simple examples:
1. Word amount: How long does it take to translate a 5,000-word text?
Between 2 and 3 days.
Roughly, translators tackle between 2,000 and 2,500 words per day.
This is very broad: every translator is different, some translate 4,000 or 5,000 per day.
But I wanted you to get a general idea.
Moreover, for the translation to be “done”, it is not only about changing the text from one language into the other; it must be reviewed and proofread to find mistakes and misspellings.
Obviously, this takes time and effort.
Therefore, calculate an average of 2,000 or 2,500 words per day for a text to be well translated and reviewed. Then, it will be ready for delivery!
2. Text specialization: How long does it take to translate a technical manual? How about a novel?
In the first place, the number of words will determine the approximate amount of days needed to complete the task (see above).
From there on, complexity of the terminology or the general content plays a big part.
When the text is very technical or includes a lot of specialized terminology, the translator normally needs more time. Documentation and research to translate the terms correctly and for the writing to be impeccable becomes more complex in these types of texts.
On the other hand, a specialized text is not only one that includes terminology, we are also referring to the writing style.
That means that a creative text is considered specialized (literature or advertisement content, for example), as it requires very specific abilities from the translator for the translation to have a good quality.
For example, they must have more wit and skill when writing or great cultural knowledge to guarantee that the equivalences are done correctly or that the cultural adaptations are right. This all refers to the meaning of the text itself as well as the original purpose of the text.
These texts normally include other types of traps, such as plays on words or double entendre. These “problems” make the process slower, as finding solutions is not easy.
However, these details should not drastically increase the time taken in section 1 if you choose a professional for your translation.
Due to their specialized training and their years of experience, they will have more skill to find solutions to the problems, they will know where to find documentation, and they will have more resources to address these questions in a faster and more efficient way.
In fact, the deadline should not increase dramatically even when the text is very specialized, because the professional translator can answer their questions timely, providing excellent results.
3. Original file format: How long does it take to translate a video?
To all the above, you must add the issue of format.
Translating a text in an editable file (for example, Word) is not the same as translating a video or an image.
If you provide your files in Word (or any other editable text format), you help the translation being done faster. It will be more comfortable for the translator, not only because it will be easier to edit, but because this kind of format allows them to better use computer-aided translation tools. You will help translators be more productive.
The formats that complicate the process and could lead to a longer wait are:
- PDF files and scanned documents: the translator has to create the translated document from scratch, including charts or any other details, to imitate the original format.
- PowerPoint presentations, Excel sheets and images: Sometimes, presentations and spreadsheets make translation more difficult by limiting the number of characters to be used. This will involve not just finding a good translation for the original text, it will also require it fitting the character-limitation. On the other hand, translating images requires technical edition knowledge, as well as the software license to do so.
- Videos: As happens with images, subtitling a video requires specific techniques and having the appropriate software. Not only that, translating a video has the added difficulty of first extracting the text (i.e., transcribing it), as working directly from the video is not recommended.
4. Translator availability: When can the translator start the task?
The amount of words in a text is one thing; it is a very different thing that the translator can start the job immediately.
It doesn’t matter if your text has 1,000 or 3,000 words, your translation won’t be ready in one or two days if the translator is so busy that they can’t start until next week.
This factor is beyond your control, but it must be taken into account. Sometimes clients are surprised that a relatively short text can take much more time than they expected, this is the reason.
The availability of the translator is fundamental, since it is them doing the translation.
CONCLUSION: How long does translation take?
If you want to know how long it will take to translate your text, divide the word total by 2,500. This will give you an approximate date.
Then, consider if your text is very specialized, if your original files are in complicated formats and if the translator is ready to start immediately.