Supply and Demand in Translation

Up to now we have seen different ways or options for determining the total cost of a translation, but now I would like to draw attention to the question of why some rates are higher when considering not only the language pair in question, but also the country in which the translation project will be presented.

This means that translation is also subject to the law of supply and demand and that there is no single absolute rate for a specific pair of languages, and this is true for a reason.

Let’s look at one example. Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries and is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. As a result, there are many language professionals in Spanish who offer their services; there are still questions that need to be answered, however. If a client needs to translate a project into Spanish, the first question from the agency will be: “Which version of Spanish will it be?” This is in reference to the differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain, in Central America, or in South America that are apparent to those who work with these different regions. Then, after it receives the final answer from the client, the agencies assigns the rates for the project, and they can vary considerably. The reason for this is simple: if the project’s audience is Spanish, the cost will be much higher since, as we all know, the quality of life in Europe is quite different than that of Latin America, which means that the rates that translators in Spain are higher than those offered by the professionals in the other continent.

We could also cite the example of relatively small countries, such as Norway, whose official language is Norwegian, where the offer of translators in this language is much smaller when compared with the countries I mentioned earlier and where the quality of life is also high, which leads to high rates.

In addition, something that can also be an aspect of working with small countries, regardless of their quality of life, is the issue of minority languages, since translators working with those languages know that there are not many qualified professionals to preform the work and as a result can place higher prices on their services.

This is the thinking that is applied when generating costs for a translation project. Several factors have to be considered, related to the factors of the target country where the translation will be presented, including the quality of life of said country, which influences the availability and cost for the translation professionals for certain languages.

(Spanish version: