Frequently Asked Questions

We offer interpreting (on-site, phone or video link-up) and translation service. Here are some FAQs respectively.

Interpreting bookings

1. Can I cancel my booking?

Yes, of course.

Please note that fees apply for late cancellation.

2. Do I have to pay if I cancel a booking?

Not if your cancellation is more than 24 hours prior to the scheduled appointment. If it is less than 24 hours, full charge of the appointment is payable.

3. How much is a late cancellation fee?

If you cancel a booking with less than 24 hours’ notice, full charge of the appointment is payable.

We put our diary on hold for you once you make a booking. This means we will not engage other clients for the period you booked. Should a cancellation occur with less than 24 hours’ notice, our chance of being engaged by another client for the period you booked is very little. We thus need this 24 hours advance notice cancellation policy to minimize business loss.

4. Does your fee vary based on whether the booking is for an on-site, over the phone or video link-up?

We charge the same rate for all interpreting assignments, whether we attend your premises or via phone/video link-up.

This is so because modes of engagement — via phone, video conference or face-to-face — do not change the cost of business, only the types of expenses. We have to cover either transport, travel time or commercial grade technology (e.g.noise cancelling headphone etc.), internet access and dedicated office fitted with support equipment.

5. Do you take bookings for weekends or after hours?

Yes, we do.

Our weekends are Saturday and Sunday. After hours are before 8:30am or after 6pm on weekdays.

6. Do you charge a different rate for weekend or after hour bookings?

Yes, we do. There will be a 25% surcharge for weekend or after hour bookings.

Translation service

1. What is your word rate?

Our word rate ranges from A$25-A$45 per 100 words, depending on the complexity of the translation requirements.

2. What are the factors of an eventual quote rate?

On the time it takes us to do a good job meeting your translation needs.

Projects that require significant customization take more time to complete. For example, projects that require multiple translation versions (to be used for web, print, summary flyer, subtitle, voice-over script and so on) take more time even if all versions are based on the same text.

Long documents (3,000+ words) also take more time. Translating a 5,000-word contract is not the same as translating five 1000-word documents. A lengthy document usually deals with a subject in depth, hence requiring a more thorough pre-translation reading and research, and post-translation editing, review and correcting. To ensure overall coherence and consistency, long document proofing must be done in its entirety, reading from the first to the last word. The longer a document, the more you need to repeat the proofing process.

Other time consuming factors include working on originals that are of bad quality, hand written documents that are hard to read, or scanned originals for which I am expected to reproduce the layout electronically.

3. What is your turn-around time?

As a ball park, our daily output is 1,500 and up to 2,500 words, with a lot riding on text complexity and editing requirement.

Plus, we are usually working on something at a given moment. Turn-around time really depends on our workload at the time.

4. Your quote is not cheap.

We do not get this comment a lot, not that we never heard it either. We can only say that high quality translation takes time and effort. Translators charge accordingly.

Think about how much time and effort you put into your original document. Think about how much time and effort you would like us to spend on crafting a decent translation for your audience.

5. Do you do proof-reading or review work by other translators?

Yes, we do.

6. Do you do proof-reading or review output by a computer translation program?

It depends on what you expect the proof-reading/review to achieve. We are happy to have a look at your machine output and discuss what you want done with it. We then go from there.

Some machine outputs are so horribly skewed that, in case of a lengthy document, trying to correct it will take more time than translating it from scratch.

7. Should I get an independent translator to back-translate your work for quality checking?

That’s entirely up to you.

We’d like to offer this advice: be mindful of the pitfalls of back-translation.

8. What are the pitfalls of back-translation?

Back-translation is to have a translation translated back to its original language by a second translator. It is a known method for quality checking, albeit a controversial one.

How it is controversial is outside the scope of this Q&A. For the benefit of translation buyers, below is my personal view.

Back translation, if it aims to ensure translation quality, is confounded by at least three factors.

a. Competence of the second translator.

Is your second translator better than your first? If yes, why not use the second one from the very beginning? If no, would you trust the second one for checking the first one’s work? If you believe both translators are equally competent, work out what exactly you hope to achieve before commissioning a back-translation. It should be something that cannot be achieved by the first translator alone.

b. Quality of the original text

How well an original text is written will be reflected in its translation. Unclear messages in the original text will result in unclear messages in the translation. Unclear messages in the translation are likely to be amplified in back translation. This is because a back translator usually has no access to the original text, often not even the briefing materials initially made available to the first translator. The back translation thus usually ends up being even further away from the original text, rendering this exercise pointless.

c. Translator anguish over back-translation.

If a translator is unduly worried that the quality of their work will be judged by how a subsequent back-Translation turns out, “Back-translation proof” is likely to become their focus when writing up the translation.

If this happens, it is an unhelpful distraction, particularly in translation between two vastly different languages such as English and Chinese.

For example, in English, when expressing an opinion, one usually starts with a position, followed by reasoning. English text is usually written in such order so it suits an English speaker’s reading expectation. In Chinese, the opposite is true. One usually begins with a long winding preamble, then ends with one’s position. To translate English into Chinese, some re-arrangement of phrases or sentences are warranted to ensure translation readability. Such re-arrangement can be constructed in more than one way.

When translated back into English, the source text’s original structure maybe all but gone, thus giving an impression of ‘drastic deviation’ from the original. Such ‘deviation’ may give rise to unfair judgement of the first translator. Fearing this, ‘first translators’ tend to employ a ‘back-translation proof’ approach, should they believe that their work will be subject to back-translation, and that their competence will be judged by the quality of a back-translation.

A ‘back-translation proof’ approach aims to preserve source text structures at the cost of target language readability. The translation remains technically accurate, yet the sentences do not flow as fluently as they could have been. A translation done this way is not particularly effective for communicating or selling, just good enough for readers privy to the subjects and those who are able to read between lines.

9. Is back-translation all bad?

No. Not at all. It can serve specific purpose if used in the right way.

For example, the World Health Organization stipulates that back-translation be an integral part of its translation process, and that it be used in a specific way.

How specific? The WHO translation guideline says:

“Back-translation will be limited to selected items that will be identified in two ways. The first will be items selected by the WHO based on those terms / concepts that are key to the instrument or those that are suspected to be particularly sensitive to translation problems across cultures. These items will be distributed when the English version of the instrument is distributed. The second will consist of other items that are added on as participating countries identify words or phrases that are problematic. These additional items must be submitted to WHO for review and approval.”

In other words, they want back-translation applied to certain difficult terms only, or only the terms that have been reviewed and approved to warrant back-translation.

10. How best to work with a translator?

The American Translators Association offers great many tips on how best to work with a translator. Here are some advice from its guidebook — Translation Getting It Right – a Guide to Buying Translation:

  • Tell your translator what the text is for,
  • Develop an on-going relationship with a translator or a team of translators,
  • Make yourself available for text queries along the way, and
  • Consider an in-house glossary with the help of your translator(s).


a. Tell your translator who the text is for, what it aims to achieve, and where it will be placed. A translation “adopts different style, pronounceability, word choice, phrasing and sentence length” depending on the nature of your text.

b. If you have long term needs for translation service, cultivate an on-going relationship with a translator or a team of translators. “The longer you work with them, the better they understand your business philosophy, strategy and products, the more effective their translation will be”.

c. Always make yourself available for questions related to your text. “Good translators are also inquisitive readers”. They read your text carefully, find bits they are not sure of, and ask for clarifications. Be sure to be available when they have questions. “The more technical your subject is, the more important that your translators know it inside out”.

d. Consider creating an in-house glossary. If your business constantly produces new texts that need to be translated, work with your translators to create an in-house glossary. Not only this is an excellent way to ensure consistency of your original documents, it will also become a critical reference for future translation jobs.

(Adopted and quoted from Translation Getting It Right – a Guide to Buying Translation, which is downloadable from ATA

(Updated: 20 August 2020)