How Long Does It Take to Translate Something?

If someone knows both of the languages well, it should be pretty simple, right? You feed one language into the translator’s eyes or ears, then the translation comes out of their mouth or through their fingers on the keyboard. Clients would certainly like that kind of lightning-fast turnaround. Language translators would like it too because their work is actually nowhere near that easy or quick. The actual answer to the question is of course the same as the answer to “How big is a river?” Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines for estimating the time needed for a project.

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But how many words per day can a translator be expected to translate?

2,500 – 3,500 in an 8-hour work day is a general ballpark figure, but of course there are a million and one caveats that could make this number higher or lower. Unfortunately, almost all of these caveats make the project more difficult and therefore more time consuming.

What affects how long it takes a translator to translate something?

1. His or Her Skill and Experience

People often confuse multilingualism with being a good translator. It’s an honest mistake, but if you need a major project translated, you probably shouldn’t assume that your brother’s wife from Costa Rica can translate it just because she has great English. You need a professional translator who knows what is expected for an important project, knows his or her own skillset and possible limitations, and who knows how to utilize the tools and resources available to translators.

2. The Topic Being Translated

Are you translating a children’s book on barnyard animals or is it legal document translation for a malpractice case involving undetected damage to the thoracic spine in a plaintiff with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis? One of those will go a lot faster than the other.

3. The Languages Required

You can eventually get a translation for any language pair, even something a little less common like Northern Kurdish to Hungarian. It’s going to take longer for you or the project manager to find that person (or likely people, as it probably won’t be a straight translation from one language to the other) than it would if the project was French to English.

Reliable Translation Services

There are many more factors, such as the need for design work/formatting, what CAT tools are being used, etc., and we haven’t even mentioned the need for rounds of editing and proofreading by a different person, but those three are some of the major factors that can influence how long it takes to translate a project. When you have a project that requires professionals who can provide reliable translation services to meet your deadlines, go with APlus Translations.

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