translation costs

Why Some Languages Are So Expensive to Translate

By Hagen Weiss

Not all languages are the same when it comes to cost. There are a variety of factors at play affecting the cost of translations. For instance, languages with fewer translators tend to cost more simply due to supply and demand. Let’s explore more of these factors contributing to why some languages are more expensive to translate than others.


Supply and Demand Languages

Like any other goods or services, translation services are governed under the economic principles of supply and demand. Higher demand for a particular language can help lower translation rates. Lower demand will push prices up.

For instance, language pairs with a high supply of translators include:

  • English & Spanish
  • English & Chinese
  • English & French
  • English & German
  • English & Russian
  • Spanish & French
  • Spanish & Italian

These language pairs (and more) are relatively common, which means higher competition when it comes to translation services. Higher competition generally means more competitive pricing. On the other hand, many African languages will cost much more to translate due to the scarcity of translators.

Cost of Living

Translators residing in parts of the globe with a high cost of living will typically charge more. Languages, such as Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Finnish, are examples of expensive languages due to the high cost of living.

One way to get a lower rate on these more expensive languages is to find a translator residing in an area of the world with a lower cost of living. For example, you may want to seek a translator living in India or Asia with expertise in translating the more expensive Nordic languages.

Types of Translation Languages

The type of translation you are looking for will also affect the cost. General translations will be much cheaper than highly technical translations. These technical translations can include:

  • Technical manuals
  • Legal documents
  • Financial documents
  • White papers
  • Engineering-related documents
  • Complex, story-driven game translations

With these technical documents, the translator may need to work with subject matter experts, driving up costs even more. Since errors for these types of documents can have significant consequences, the quality of the translation – and hence the price – must be of the highest caliber.

Other Considerations

It’s important to note that the cost factors mentioned above only pertain to the translation of the languages. It does not include other crucial aspects, such as:

  • Translation reviews
  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Localization
  • Localization QA

Companies may take translation rates at face value without accounting for these other QA or review-type costs necessary for a quality translation. Translators offering lower rates can seem enticing at first but may not come with the full suite of QA services. Without the necessary quality reviews and localization audits, it might cost you more in the long run.

iGlobe: Your Translation and Localization Agency

It’s important to understand what goes behind the rate you are paying when working with a translation or localization company. With iGlobe, we offer you a free assessment and transparent pricing. It’s our goal to ensure your game is a success as we partner alongside you on this journey.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you!

E-mail: hello@iglobe.ca

Tel:+1 604 355 3023