How to access translation and interpreting services

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How to access translation and interpreting services

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how to access translation services

If you need help to communicate with people in a different language, you are likely to need to work with either a translator or an interpreter.
But how do you know if you need to access translation or interpreting services?

Really they are two sides of the same coin, and in this article we’re going to break down the differences, talk about how the different services work, and share our tips for finding the translation or interpreting service that meets your needs.

What is translation?

Translation refers to the process of converting a written text from one language (often called the ‘source’ language) to another (the ‘target’ language). Translation can be done by a person/people, or, these days, by using an AI translation platform or app (see our blog on AI translation for more of our thoughts on this, as the technology can help, but currently has its limits!).

The aim of translation is to communicate the same message, sense and tone as the original text, but in a new language or languages. It doesn’t always mean a literal, word-for-word translation, as communicating the same message while sounding natural in the target language might mean changing some of the words and phrases to flow better, or to ensure that local customs or conventions are followed. You might hear this referred to as ‘localisation’.

You can find out more about what a translation service offers in one of our recent blogs.

What is interpretation?

When we’re talking about language, interpretation refers to the process of converting spoken words from one language to another, also aiming to preserve the same meaning, sense and tone.

(Interpretation can also refer to converting sign language (e.g. British or American sign language) to verbal speech (or vice versa).
The two most common types of interpreting are simultaneous interpreting (where an interpreter talks at the same time as the source language), and consecutive interpreting (where there are breaks in the source language for the interpreter to speak).

Language interpreting has been part of our human lives since the beginnings of language, and certainly since before the development of writing.

Our MD, Robert, recalls a recent visit to a business expo, where a speaker was delivering a talk ‘silent disco’-style with all the delegates wearing headphones. He noticed what looked like a family group trying to interpret what was coming through the headphones. Somehow, they were making it work, but as Robert says:

There are so many options these days for seamless interpreting services. Never assume it’s impossible before talking to a professional translation and interpreting service. Once we know what’s needed, we can find a way.

Who uses translation and interpreting services?

Translation and interpreting are essential services for many people, in either their professional or personal lives, from businesses in virtually any sector, to governments, to individuals living in a country where they aren’t confident using the official language.

These days, we quite often use translation services even when we’re not aware of it – think subtitles or ‘dubbing’ on films, social media and reels, or auto-translate on Facebook posts (caveat –machine translation has a way to go, and purely AI-generated subtitles are frequently a bit dodgy, sometimes with hilarious consequences).

At Language Link UK, we often help people who are buying property overseas; or who have encountered a problem while travelling, by translating legal and other documents, or provide UK-based interpreting services for people who need help to talk to the authorities here, or as part of a court appearance.

How much does it cost to have a translation service?

Unsurprisingly, the cost of using a translation or interpreting service varies depending on what you need.
Translations are usually priced per 1000 words, whereas interpretation is usually based on an hourly rate. But the cost will depend on other factors, like how many target languages you need, or whether you need your interpreter to travel to a particular location, rather than offering a phone service.

If you’re looking for a translation or interpretation service, look for one that offers flexible pricing options rather than rigid fixed rates. At Language Link UK, we work closely with you to develop a pricing plan that fits your requirements, whether you’re looking for a one-time translating or interpreting service or ongoing support.

How do you find a good translation service?

Finding the right translation or interpreting service for your needs needn’t be daunting, although there are many options out there, from self-employed individuals to large agencies.

Things to look for in a translation service:

  • Native speakers – It’s important that the translator/interpreter is a native speaker of the target language (the language they are translating into), as this gives them knowledge of the nuances of the language and any cultural aspects that might have an impact.
  • Subject experts – Depending on your needs, you may need to look for a translator or interpreter who has expert knowledge of the subject matter, for example technical or legal terminology, or marketing principles.
  • Range of languages and dialects – This might not be so important if you’re an individual purchasing property in, say, Spain, and need help with the legal documents; but if you’re looking for translation or interpreting services for business reasons, it makes it a lot easier if the service offers everything you might need in the future.
  • Friendly, professional customer service – Have a chat with any translation or interpreting service company before deciding to commit. Look for people who show a genuine interest in you, and in finding out exactly what is going to meet your needs.
  • High quality standards – Look for accreditations like European Quality Standard BSEN15038:2006, and ask whether foreign embassies accept language translations certified by the translation service, as this assures you of quality and can save you time and money on legalisation or notarisation later.

If you are looking to access a cost-effective translation or interpreting service, using a service like Language Link UK will give you peace of mind that you are working with a team of over 5000 experienced linguists and language experts, with native speakers who have specialist expertise in a wide range of different sectors including law, finance, aviation, travel, medicine and marketing.

Working with a team like ours also has the advantage that if something goes wrong, a team of account managers dedicated to customer service has your back.

As Robert says:

A couple of weeks ago we had a challenge where, the day before a major interpreting assignment, the booked interpreter lost their voice due to illness. Because we have a great network of interpreters, we were able to fill the gap – even though it was for a language we don’t often see used in the UK, and took 20 phone calls! But it was vital. We’re really a people business, not a language business, and it’s all about solving people’s problems. That person needed to be able to go ahead with their day in Court, and we were committed to making it happen.

With 35 years’ experience in the industry, over 5,000 translators native in over 200 languages and dialects, and industry-specific expertise across numerous sectors including finance, law, technology and medicine we’re your go-to service for translation, interpretation and transcription.

Contact us to discuss your next project.