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Translation Fees Per Page: Translation Services Cost Structures Changing?

Is "Translation Rates Per Word" Obsolete Thanks to MT?

The translation industry stands at a crossroads. On one side, you have the traditional translation service providers clinging to the per-word pricing model. On the other, a shiny new path opens up, paved by the advancements in AI and Machine Translation. It's time we discuss why the old guard needs to make way for the new.

Introduction to Translation Service Rates

Imagine this: You're a business owner looking to expand your brand globally. You need a translated and localized website, patents, product descriptions, and marketing materials. Naturally, you turn to translation services for help.

However, the world of translation services can be a confusing and convoluted one. Typically, translation services are pegged on a per-word or per-page pricing model. Translation rates vary widely, depending on factors such as language pairs, document complexity, and turnaround times.

A quick scan of industry prices reveals an average translation rate of $0.10 to $0.30 per word. For example, translating a 5-page business proposal from English to French could cost you upwards of $500.

It's not just the price that's at stake here. Consider the constraints and conditions that often accompany these services. With this pricing structure, clients may have to juggle the following:

  • Quality vs. Cost: High-quality translations come at a premium. To cut costs, you may have to compromise on the quality of the final product.
  • Turnaround time: Faster turnaround times usually mean higher costs. So, to meet tight deadlines, you'll likely have to dig deeper into your pockets.
  • Rush fees: Need something translated in a jiffy? Be prepared to pay rush fees, which can significantly inflate your translation costs.

That sounds like a tough pill to swallow. But wait. With the advent of AI-powered translation tools, is the per-word pricing model still the best option? Let's dive deeper.

Pushing Back on High Translation Prices

Let's pull back the curtain and examine the inner workings of a typical translation agency (also known as a Language Service Provider, or LSP). More often than not, Machine Translation (MT) is part of the equation. Agencies usually leverage MT to generate the initial translation, followed by human translators who proofread and refine the output, a process known as machine translation post editing.

Here's the kicker: These agencies charge "rush pricing" for fast turnarounds, even when the bulk of the translation process is automated. Ironically, AI-enabled translation platforms like SYSTRAN NMT can accomplish the same task in real-time.

For businesses with regular translation needs, it doesn't add up to pay these translation rates. Why pay hefty fees for a largely automated service that takes longer than necessary?

It'may just be time for a paradigm shift.

The Rise Of Neural Machine Translation

Enter Neural Machine Translation (NMT). This AI-driven approach has revolutionized machine translation, rendering the old per-word pricing model obsolete.

Over the past five years, NMT has made substantial strides, prompting many companies to switch from traditional Language Service Providers (LSPs) to AI-enabled platforms, often with a machine translation post editing setup.

The benefits of NMT clearly warrant this shift. Let’s take a look at some of the pros:

  • Cost-effective: One of the most compelling advantages of NMT is its cost efficiency. In some cases, NMT solutions can deliver translations at a fraction (sometimes 1/100) of the cost of traditional translation agencies. This cost-saving potential is especially significant for businesses with regular translation needs, where even small savings can add up quickly with dramatically lower translation costs.
  • Fast: With NMT, there's no need to wait days or weeks for a translation project to be completed. AI-powered translation can often deliver accurate results in real-time, allowing businesses to respond quickly to changing market conditions and seize opportunities as they arise.
  • Scalable: Unlike traditional LSPs, NMT solutions can quickly scale to meet the needs of growing businesses. Whether you're translating a single document or an entire website, NMT can handle the workload without compromising speed or accuracy.
  • Flexible: Businesses no longer need to "be choosy" with their translation projects to save costs. The affordability of NMT makes it feasible to translate a wide range of content, from marketing materials to internal communications, without breaking the bank.

So, why are businesses still sticking to the old ways, choosing to be "choosy" with translation to save costs when they could have the whole cake and eat it too with NMT?

Consider this: A 50-page technical manual, with an average of 500 words per page, could cost upwards of $2,500 with traditional translation fees per page. But with NMT, that same manual could be translated for as little as $25. The savings are staggering!

Here's a little comparison:


Traditional LSP





Turnaround Time

Several days



Limited by human resources

Virtually limitless

With NMT, businesses no longer have to walk the tightrope between quality, cost, and time. It's a game-changer, offering a viable, cost-effective alternative to traditional translation services.

Final Thoughts

Neural Machine Translation represents a significant shift in the average translation rates in the world of translation services. The cost efficiency, speed, scalability, and flexibility of NMT make it an attractive alternative to traditional LSPs, particularly for businesses with ongoing translation needs, such as a hospital that requires medical document translation.

As AI advances and reshapes the language translation industry, it's time for businesses to reevaluate their translation services' cost structure and consider embracing the benefits of modern NMT solutions. After all, why pay per word when you can have the world translated at your fingertips?

The digital age has transformed many industries, and language translation is no exception. The traditional model of translation fees per page or translation rate per word is becoming less relevant as businesses recognize the advantages of AI-enabled translation. The balance of power is shifting, and the days of pricey per-word translation services may be numbered.

Embracing Change: The Future Of Language Translation

By harnessing the power of Neural Machine Translation, businesses can streamline their translation processes, save money, and adapt more quickly to the global market. It's a win-win situation. Lower translation costs, faster turnaround times, and the ability to translate a broader range of content – all without sacrificing quality.

So, next time you ask yourself, "How much do translation services cost?" consider this: the real question might be, "Why am I still paying per word when AI can do it better, faster, and cheaper?" The answer may change the way you think about translation prices.

You can test the power of SYSTRAN’s NMT software for free today. It only takes a few seconds. Come and see what all the excitement is about.

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Craig Wright