Language Services now comprise many disciplines. The main division is between spoken means of rendering one language into another, called interpreting and written words called translation.
Then there are cultural communication challenges as well as technologies and systems that need to be organized and mastered to achieve communication goals. These include globalization to make products world-ready and localization to make products work locally and be meaningful to consumers in your target market.
In this article, I will focus on a recent challenge we were given to help with police language work; our first project involved a lengthy transcript and translation from Spanish to English.
The request was of 30 minutes of transcription and translation. When we provided the estimate, the client communicated that it was too expensive, so we volunteered to try some new technologies to see if we could use a combination of disciplines to produce an acceptable result. It quickly became a good experiment.
We thought of two options for the project: either to interpret on the fly or to first transcribe to the written word and then translate those written words. The“interpretation” method is still cheaper than a transcript and a translation, but for accuracy’s sake, it is best to do the full transcript and translation. If you don’t transcribe first, the only way to check the interpretation is listening to the Spanish again; whereas if it were transcribed, it could be read next to the literal word-for-word translation.
In addition, interpreting is actually a different skill because it’s designed to synthesize what is being said. We are sure we represented what we understood on the tape overall, but because of the nature of police work, the client needs a word-for-word representation of the evidence that can be tracked back and certified.
One exception is when there are hours and hours of material that need to narrowed-down first to reduce costs. After transcription, instead of translating word for word, it can be interpreted into the target language as a cost-effective way to reduce the amount of material that needs translation.
As a rule of thumb, it takes six to eight times the length of a recording to transcribe it and if somebody doesn’t have the right tools, this process can take even longer. Factors that affect transcription are the clarity of the audio, the number of speakers and if they can be easily identified.
We found in police work, that there is often very little context, as well as lots of slang and regional dialects that can get in the way of simply interpreting from one language to the other.
It is important, especially for monolingual Chiefs and Captains to understand the complexities of bilingual police work!
The chart below gives an idea of comparable costs for the services.
|30-minute clear audio|
|Transcription and then the full translation (Based on 150 words per minute)||$1,250-$1,500|