After a presentation of best practices of buying translation services in part 1, we take a look at translation services in Tbilisi.
Providers and prices in Tbilisi
The main players on the Georgian market are translation agencies and freelancers. Some notaries(1) also work hand in hand with a translator for notarized translations of administrative documents and contracts. Translation agencies also provide notarization services but freelancers usually don’t.
Competition prevails and typical prices of 10 to 15 GEL per page of non-technical text are common in translation agencies (one page is about 1,800 signs). Freelancers’ fees vary anywhere between 5 GEL and 15 USD for similar work. Prices will increase with the complexity and urgency of the translation job. They apply to translations between Georgia and English, Georgian and Russian and English and Russian. Turkish has gained popularity in recent years and translations to or from Turkish are increasingly in demand.
Most of the work is done through email and telephone. The basic process consists in sending the documents to get a quote (price and delay), with which you’ll decide to go ahead or not. How quickly and precisely your questions are given an answer varies widely. You may be asked to pay after receiving a sample translation from your text and before receiving the full translation.
Quality of translations
The review of best practices of part 1 distinguished translations “for information” from translations “for publication”. The most common output you can expect in Tbilisi are translations “for information”. They convey only the contents of the source text. This may be sufficient for meeting notes but not for the local version of your company’s website.
Translations into Georgian are particularly troublesome: by not caring about the result which they usually can’t read, buyers of translations have driven not only prices, but also quality down.
Mark Mullen, board member of Radarami(2), an organization dedicated to bringing the most important and topical international non-fiction books to Georgian readers, underlines the complexity of Georgian, adding that few people can write it really well.
At Radarami, we pay attention to three things: the accuracy of the translation, the sentence construction and the richness of the language. The translation shouldn’t feel like a word for word paraphrase of the source, and if it borrows many foreign terms, many Radarami readers in remote areas of Georgia won’t understand it.
About checking whether a translation is good, Mark adds:
The mistake people make is thinking that only one person can translate well. That’s never the case: you always need at least one editor. Two is better: one for accuracy who speaks English and one for everything else who doesn’t but who is a Georgian language expert.
And to assess a translator’s skills, Mark gives them a short text, plenty of time and the request to translate it “so that the reader can’t tell it was a translation”. A professional Georgian linguist who doesn’t speak English then grades the quality of the language. If this approach isn’t realistic for those pressed by time, it at least shows that solutions do exist.
In any case, be suspicious of individual translators who say they can provide high quality translations among English, Russian and Georgian and don’t take the result for granted if you’re looking for a translation for publication.
How to find translators in Tbilisi
- Ask your network and friends for a recommendation.
- Check the translators’ offices near the Public Service Hall(3) (for translations of administrative documents).
- Check organizations that use certified translators (notaries when they work in the languages you know, embassies, chambers of commerce).
- Online search, with the help of a Georgian friend because many of the directories you’ll find are… in Georgian only (!)
- Finally, you can pay top dollar to have an organization in a country you know better to figure it out. For example, a company called Tomedes(4) provides translations in more than 140 languages, including Georgian.