Translation FAQ

Q. Is DNA Language an agency?

A. No, we’re a small company working with associates for large or complex projects that we prefer not to handle in-house.

Q. Does DNA Language do multi-language translations?

A. We only work in the languages we know and for which we can offer rigorous quality control: French, Italian and English. For multi-language projects we’d advise you to contact a reputable translation company with the appropriate language combinations and localisation resources. Let us know if you need advice or suggestions.

Q. Wouldn’t I be better with an agency? They have more resources and can offer me more security.

A. Agencies outsource their translations to freelancers, whichever one is available at the time. You have no guarantee of continuity, and usually no direct contact with the translator. We aim to ensure that the same translator handles all of your projects. We also have back-up arrangements in place so that one of our associates can always step in if necessary.

Q. How do I find a good translator?

A. Good ways to find a good translator are:

  • word of mouth – ask your friends and business associates
  • check out translators’ associations’ web sites – they have lists of members, with their areas of expertise
  • Chambers of Commerce, government export agencies, embassies and consulates sometimes have lists of approved translators
  • ask DNA Language – we have lots of translation contacts and can point you in the right direction

Q. Translators’ rates seem to vary widely. Why is that?

A. Some translators are very bad at their jobs, others work for unscrupulous agencies paying them little more than the minimum wage. They have to churn out high volumes of sub-standard work just to survive. Other translators are very good at their job and work to the highest professional standards. They care about quality, and about their clients. Which sort would you prefer? Like everything else in life, you get what you pay for.

Q. What are DNA Language's rates?

A. For an idea of our basic rates, check out our Fees page. But please note that our basic fees are intended as guidance only. We don’t have a standard rate, as our work varies widely in difficulty and complexity. Some projects are straightforward, others require hours of research or creative input. For a free quote, send us an email with details of document type, subject area, deadline, and intended use/target audience (eg in-house, publication, web). Better still, send the document itself, again by email. 
And remember: price is what you pay, quality is what you get.

Q. OK, you don't have a standard rate. But how do you calculate your fees? By the hour? Word? Or what?

A. We calculate translation and editing work on a per page basis. Our standard page is 1500 characters, including spaces. If you’d prefer a quote based on number of words, let us know. For training, usability, and web-writing services we charge on an hourly basis.

Q. You talk a lot about quality. How do I know if a translator’s any good? What should I be looking for?

A. Translators should meet most, if not all, of the following criteria:

  • work into their mother-tongue
  • excellent knowledge of their source language
  • even better knowledge of their own language
  • excellent writing skills in their own language
  • expertise in their specialist subject areas
  • research skills
  • computer skills (word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, translation software etc)
  • intelligence, professionalism, common sense, nous, “savvy” and know-how
  • up-to-date skills – on-going training and professional development
  • web-writing expertise – training and experience
  • expertise in formatting web and printed copy for optimum readability
  • experience of other types of employment.

The list could go on, but you get the idea.

Q. What’s the difference between a translator and an interpreter?

A. Interpreters speak, translators write. So interpreters work at meetings, conferences and similar events. Translators work with the written word: printed or online.

Q. What do translators mean when they refer to their source language and target language?

A. The source language is the language a translator works from, the target language the one they work into. So if we’re translating a report from Italian to English, Italian is the source language, English the target.

Q. Do you do test translations?

A. We prefer not to, as they’re very time-consuming, with no guaranteed return. However, we’re prepared to do short test-translations (1 standard page, 250-300 words) for large or on-going projects with the prospect of repeat work.

By the way, selecting your translation company through test translations – and even tenders, unless they’re very carefully designed and worded – is no guarantee of quality. Many agencies hire skilled professionals for test translations. Then, if they win the contract, they sub-contract to second-rate or inexperienced translators. And selecting primarily on the basis of price is really not a good idea. Be warned!

Q. If you don’t like doing test translations, how can we judge the quality of your work?

A. We’d be happy to provide you with samples of previous work. But we think our client list speaks for itself.

Q. When should I bring a translator into my project?

A. As soon as possible. Especially if you’re having your web site translated, as there are design factors to be considered.

Q. What information should I give the translator?

A. Information on any terminology you use; the purpose and audience of the translation (is it for publication? in-house use? marketing or advertising? academic?); background material on your product, service or sector.

Q. I’ve already had my web site translated, but I don’t have enough language skills to evaluate the translation

A. If you’ve already had material translated, we can review it and give you our honest opinion – if your translator’s done a good job, we’ll tell you so. We're not in the business of stealing work from other translators, but we do get very annoyed when they give their clients a second- or even third-rate service. We think you deserve better. Back to top