Why would I choose a translation agency for my translation project? Can’t I just use an individual translator?

An agency such as ABC Translations will place each assignment with an independent, freelance translator with the appropriate skills and experience for that particular project, who is available to meet your required delivery date. Any one individual translator may already have too great a work load to meet your deadline, may be away on holiday, may not have the relevant expertise for the type of assignment you wish to place with them. An agency therefore does the work of finding the appropriate translator with the appropriate availability, to save you the time and effort.

ABC Translations can therefore offer you a far broader range of services than an individual translator can.

Moreover, within the price quote you get extra quality control and resources that are simply not available to an individual translator (see How do you guarantee the quality of translations?).

How do you calculate the cost of my translation?

Translation costs are based on the number of words to be translated or keyed in the original (source) text. Very short documents are subject to our minimum charge per language. We will ask to see a document first before giving a firm price, as the cost of translation will vary depending on the languages concerned, the type of document, the subject matter, and whether it is highly specialised, repetitive, urgent or requires extensive formatting. Once we receive a copy of the text for translation we will provide a written quotation, which will remain valid for 30 days.

However, we can usually give a rough estimate in advance provided that we are given basic information regarding the language, subject matter and size of the document for translation. For very large bundles of documents, we can give you an estimate if you can supply us with a few sample pages.

Do you offer discounts?

Discounts may be available on assignments in excess of 5000 words, and will vary according to word count, format and timescale. Please contact us with details of any specific assignment for further information.

Do you charge extra for urgent translations?

ABC Translations do not surcharge for urgent translations, nor are there additional charges for translation work carried out over weekends and public holidays. However, if work, particularly on highly specialised texts, is required urgently or at very short notice, we will have a smaller pool of suitable translators to choose from, and rates may subsequently be slightly higher than normal.

How do you guarantee the quality of translations?

Our translators are carefully selected in accordance with our strict quality procedures based upon formal translation qualifications and relevant industry specialisation. All our translators are highly qualified professional linguists who translate exclusively into their mother/native tongue. Where necessary, work is checked by a second independent linguist. A final check is always carried out in-house before the work is returned to you.

Can you certify a translation?

Sometimes certification of a translation is needed for use in court, for service of documents overseas or for production to official bodies (eg the Home Office, the Passport Office, etc). We can therefore provide you either with a translator’s certificate, or an affidavit from the translator, sworn before either a solicitor or a notary, as appropriate. Foreign & Commonwealth Office legalisation (attachment of an apostille) for sworn translations can also be arranged.

Do you use official translators?

Official bodies overseas will often ask for a translation to be provided by a ‘sworn’ or ‘official’ translator. Such translators, registered with local courts and town halls, exist throughout mainland Europe, but not in the UK. In these instances an affidavit sworn by the translator before a solicitor or notary will usually suffice, either with or without an apostille depending on which country the translation is required for.

How long does a translation take to complete?

On average a translator will complete about 2000 – 3000 words per day. However, this will vary depending on the language, subject matter and layout of the text.

Can my computer read translations in different alphabets?

With most up to date word-processing programmes the ability to read different alphabets is either in-built or can be installed. However, this can depend on whether you have the same fonts and operating systems as the translator. Sometimes compatibility depends even on the manufacturer and year of issue of the font. If you intend to carry out the typesetting yourself, please let us know which fonts you have available, so that we can check with the translator that you will be able to read the translator’s files.

Particularly with languages which are read right-to-left rather than left-to right, you may be unable to edit/format the text, or even tell if it appears correctly on screen or when printed, even if you have the correct fonts. We can therefore provide the translation as artwork ready for printing as EPS/PDF files to avoid such problems.

What are the different types of spoken and written Chinese?

There are two written forms – Traditional and Simplified Chinese

Simplified characters are used in the Peoples’ Republic of China and Singapore. Traditional Chinese characters are used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. Although simplified and traditional Chinese are only variations of written Chinese, it is not unusual to find that those who read only traditional Chinese cannot understand simplified Chinese, and vice versa. Therefore, it is important in Chinese translation to determine whether simplified or traditional Chinese should be used for a particular target market.

There are two predominant spoken forms of Chinese, but many other dialects.

Mandarin is the main spoken Chinese language. Cantonese is one of the Chinese dialects. In mainland China and Taiwan, most people can speak Mandarin, while Cantonese is only spoken in China’s Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. Cantonese is more popular among overseas Chinese because most Chinese immigrants in the UK and Europe come from Guangdong and Hong Kong.

It should be noted that traditional and simplified Chinese are only variations of the written forms, whereas Mandarin and Cantonese are related to its spoken form. They should not be confused; that is, Mandarin is not the same thing as simplified Chinese.

What is the difference between Cantonese and Mandarin? How are they related to traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese?

Mandarin is the main spoken Chinese language. Cantonese is one of the Chinese dialects. In mainland China and Taiwan, most people can speak Mandarin, while Cantonese is only spoken in China’s Guangdong Province and Hong Kong. Cantonese is more popular among overseas Chinese because most Chinese immigrants in the UK and Europe come from Guangdong and Hong Kong.

It should be noted that traditional and simplified Chinese are only variations of the written forms, whereas Mandarin and Cantonese are related to its spoken form. They should not be confused; that is, Mandarin is not the same thing as simplified Chinese.

Can the document(s) be split between translators?

If a very large volume of text needs to be translated quickly, it is possible to have two or more translators working on different parts of it. However, even with our project manager checking the translations for consistency, there will be inevitable differences in style and terminology, and therefore this should only be used as an option where the translation is required for information only rather than publication.

Are all documents supplied treated confidentially?

All work undertaken is automatically treated in a completely confidential manner by both in-house staff and our freelance translators and interpreters. However, we would be happy to conclude a Confidentiality + Non-disclosure Agreement should you require this.

What do I need to consider when requesting a translation?


If possible, documents should be provided in electronic editable format such as Word, as the translator can then overwrite the existing text retaining the original format, which will save time. However, pdfs files can also be sent by email. If only hard copy is available, the quality/legibility of the text is best retained by scanning and emailing the documents to us. Alternatively, hard copies can be posted to our Lancing office address.

What is it for?

Let us know what the translation is for and who the target audience is – that way we can select the appropriate translator for the assignment and they can in turn translate the document with this in mind.
If the translation is for publication, it should be borne in mind that the translator can only translate the original text supplied, and subsequent localisation/copywriting by a local agent or overseas branch is recommended. Someone editing the text so that it is suitable for its target market from a marketing and/or legal perspective may well make changes that deviate from the original; however, although such changes may be perfectly valid and necessary, they are outside the remit of the translator.

Background/Reference Material

If you have glossaries or terminology lists of your in-house preferred terms, these should be provided to the translator to ensure that the translation remains consistent with existing material and meets your requirements.

Returning a document in batches

When there are several different files to be translated, and the translated text is required urgently, we may be able to deliver in batches so that you can start to work on the documents sooner.

What is the difference between an interpreter and translator?

Interpreters deal with the spoken word and translators deal with the written word. Some do both, but interpreting and translating require quite different skill sets so most language professionals will specialise in either one or the other.

What different types of interpreting are available?


Suitable for:

  • conferences
  • seminars
  • multilingual meetings
  • television and radio broadcasts

It requires sophisticated facilities and technical support. There is normally a booth and two simultaneous interpreters for each language. This type of interpreting requires an extremely high level of concentration, so simultaneous interpreters take turns, generally for about 20 minutes at a time, during which the resting interpreter helps the active one to consult the available material.


Required at :

  • conferences
  • training sessions
  • court hearings

A ‘simpler’ form of simultaneous translation where a single person or a maximum of two people require the services of an interpreter. The interpreter sits behind the client(s) and “whispers” the simultaneous translation in the ear of the person concerned. If there will be regular natural breaks, this can be carried out by one interpreter, but if the interpretation is required continuously for more than 20 -30 minutes at a time, a minimum of two interpreters will be required.

Consecutive interpretation

Normally required for:

  • formal court hearings
  • business meetings and presentations
  • exhibitions
  • delegate visits

The interpreter waits for the speaker to pause after each sentence or phrase before interpreting the sentence.

Ad-hoc / Liaison:

A form of consecutive interpreting usually provided in situations where the conversation is not planned, usually between two or three people. Events can include:

  • business trips and delegate visits
  • trade fairs
  • guided tours
  • training courses
  • interviews
  • medical appointments
  • tribunals or prison visits

At ABC we can provide interpreters for the above types of interpreting in the following types of settings:


Interpreting at smaller or less formal company meetings, factory visits, exhibitions, product launches, at government meetings and accompanying delegations etc, that mainly involve consecutive or whispered interpreting.

Police & Court:

Interpreting at police stations and in court, for solicitors, prison visits, at arbitrations and tribunals etc., that mainly involve consecutive or whispered interpreting.


Interpreting for individuals and organisations for hospital / doctor’s appointments, social services meetings etc., that mainly involve consecutive or whispered interpreting.


Consecutive interpreting where one or more speakers are not in the same room as the interpreter and communicate with him or her by telephone or video call.

Do your interpreters have security clearance?

Many of our interpreters hold security clearance (CRB, Police Clearance, Counter Terrorist Check) enabling them to attend assignments at prisons and police stations.

What do I need to consider when booking an interpreter?

It is recommended that interpreting services are booked well in advance so that we can find the most suitable interpreter nearest to the assignment. It is always useful for background information to be supplied in order that the interpreter has the opportunity to familiarise himself/herself with the assignment and research specific terminology.

Contact us now for a free quote.

Whatever you need to have translated, and in whatever language, we can help. We’re precise and professional, accurate and approachable.