How Long Can a Translation Take?

Est. Reading Time: 4min
Category: Translate
Last Updated: January 7, 2021
By: Rana Hamodah

Everyone from students to working professionals, such as doctors, and engineers to government leaders all have needed the power of translation in one way or another. It has also never been easier to get almost anything translated with the help of the Internet and a trusted translation service.

One of the questions that most people ask when needing a translation is how long it can take for them to receive an accurate and professional translation. That will depend on their needs and the material they want to be translated.

First, you have to know that there are 2 main types of translations, Human and Machine.

Human Translation, as the name suggests, is a translation done by a real, actual person who is at least bilingual and bicultural. This can be done online, or with the translator being physically present.

Translations this way, take more time and more effort but generally yield better,  more professional results. This is because trained translators have to fully understand the original material or source, look into the context, the grammar, and the style of the writing before transferring all that over to the target language and medium. It may also take several drafts and reviews before coming up with a final output.

Some professional translators also enlist the help of computers to accomplish larger, more complex projects if there is little manpower, or if they are individual freelancers. These computer-assisted translations (CAT) are also accurate and do not compromise quality for speed.

It is best to get professional, legal and business documents to be translated by humans due to their sensitive nature. That along with the possible inaccuracy of machine translators can lead to potential legal implications.

Human Translation, on average can take anywhere from 2-9 business days. It may take more or less depending on different factors such as the competence, manpower and complexity of the source material.

The 2nd main type is Machine Translation, which are translations done by computer or web programs. There will be no human intervention producing the target material or text, and is the most convenient and cost-effective way to translate most non-complex media.

Translations done by computer or web programs lack the human factor that comes into translations, which in turn can lead to inaccurate and culturally inappropriate translations, especially for more complex projects and media. This is because languages do not just involve syntax, but various sentence structures, connotations and cultural references that cannot really be programmed into a computer.

Some of the most popular Machine Translation Services include Google Translate, Microsoft Translator and Yandex Translate, and are all readily available to anyone who would like to use them and come with a wealth of features that make it very easy to input the source text and output the target text. These features can include voice and handwriting input to translation feedback and shareable translation links. The best part is they are free.

Although simple and accessible, it is highly discouraged to have important documents be machine-translated due to the mentioned inaccurate and faulty translations that can be produced by machine translation services.

Machine Translation, generally takes only a few seconds to a few minutes at maximum. This depends on the complexity of the source material or text as well as the ability of the program to process the media inputted.

Overall, translation services are now readily available on the Internet, so anyone with a connection can get most materials translated in as little as a few seconds. This is far from how it was a decade ago when most of the groundbreaking technology (such as Artificial Intelligence) in linguistics was not even developed or discovered yet. All you need to do is go out there and find the best translation service that best fits your needs.

About the author

Rana Hamodah

As a migrant to Canada, Rana understands the challenges newcomers face and how access to information can help ease the transition.

Her two Bachelors of Arts in Linguistics and Literature and Translation paired with her Masters in Education and her candidacy for a Ph.D. in Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy (EDD) at the university of British Columbia make her uniquely qualified in ethnocultural communications. She is a Commissioner for Oath and can administer oaths and take, receive, and attest affidavits, affirmations and declarations. Currently, she is also pursuing her Immigration Consultant Certificate.