We all know the saying “penny-wise, pound-foolish”. Yet, due to a common misunderstanding of the work of translation – typically and erroneously seen as a commodity, many clients will fall into the trap of looking for a bargain while forgetting about the importance of quality.
If you want super fast results, you can go for machine translation. You can’t get faster than that. In terms of entertainment value (or ridicule value, depending on your readers’ sense of humour), it’s equally unbeatable.
If you want super cheap, there are some seriously exploitative agencies out there that regularly outrage professional translators. Unsurprisingly, these tend to be short-term businesses because competing on price is unsustainable, as any business manager/owner will know. Chances are that the people working for such agencies are students who don’t know their worth (yet) and/or are trying to build a portfolio of experience before swiftly moving on to better clients, or unqualified and not-so-bothered amateurs looking for a bit of pocket money (this might be an undeclared income, too).
Buyers of such options usually see translation as a mere commodity and there will always be providers willing to accommodate rather than educate. As explained regularly in this blog, translation is a complex process because languages have their own individual complexity and are rooted in a unique culture.
If quality and reliability is what you’re after, the super-fast and the super-cheap are not your friends. For respectable results, call on a respectable translator and be willing to pay a respectable fee for their skills. I wish I could still live on 5 francs a month and have some spare for my piggy bank, but clearly that wouldn’t pay the mortgage these days.
A poor-quality translation is a waste of time and money, however minimal the investment. Quality, on the other hand, will deliver your message reliably and bring a return on investment. The choice is yours.