To Alter the Translation Pricing Dynamics


The prices of the majority of CIS translation service providers are three to five times lower than in the USA or Europe. The largest CIS translation companies seek to access foreign markets by finding overseas clients and opening their subsidiaries in Canada, the USA and Europe. The others focus on the neighboring countries. Russian translators believe they surpass the others (that’s questionable in most cases) and hence dare to invade the adjacent markets.

During the first six months of 2016, all the CIS member countries’ share amounted to 12% of the Russian total trade turnover. CIS languages, especially Kazakh, proved to be quite beneficial for the Russian translation companies for the last three years.

As to notarized translations of individuals’ documents, Ukrainian language is reportedly most popular in Russia now due to the today’s political situation.

They say, Chinese language will be promising in the long run.

For the time being, no Kazakhstani translation agencies have accessed the Russian or foreign markets. Foreign translation service providers seem to have no interest in Kazakhstani translation companies either. So, the latter have to scrape the bottom of the barrel by working at low prices.

Most Kazakhstani clients are not ready to pay for the high quality translations, as they prefer to choose a provider based on the lowest prices. They merely do not see the difference. Nor have they any definite quality criteria.

So, translation bureaus have to engage those translators whose rates are lowest. Certainly, this affects the quality of the finished translation.

Being forced to work at low rates too, Chinese language service providers often elect to use machine translation. The situation in Kazakhstan is significantly better, of course. However, the low prices result in the lack of working capital. This prevents translation companies from creating a proper production cycle and a quality management system. They cannot afford introducing latest translation software or personnel training.

Optimists expect the market to become, ultimately, divided into the two groups: (i) expensive high quality translations and (ii) cheap translations of poor quality. The second group will be increasingly replaced with machine translations, so such translation companies will either disappear or shift to the first group. At the same time, some language service providers will have to adjust their prices, if their price/quality ratio is unreasonable.

Further developments will kick a lot of incompetent translators out from the market. This will improve substantially the quality level and professionalism of the survivors.

I myself am not so optimistic. I do not think that all we need is to wait until the current difficulties help us cope with ordeals.

To my mind, to succeed, individual translators and translation agencies in Kazakhstan should get specialized, improve their skills and competences, create professional organizations, and find their own ways to the active cooperation with foreign colleagues and to memberships at foreign associations of translators. Furthermore, to achieve this, it is required to accept and introduce international translation standards.

Will translators’ work become respected and deserve a higher pay then?


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