1. Language Pair Rarity: AKA supply and demand. It doesn’t matter if two languages share a similar branch on the linguistic tree – if there aren’t many resources in a particular language pair, it’s going to cost more.
2. Language Pair Distance: If you need to translate between two languages that have vastly different grammar, or cultural contexts, it can be a more difficult job (and may even require some DTP/formatting to boot!). This can lead to additional time and costs. Depending on the language pair, it may be easier to translate into a more common language like English or Spanish first, and use it as a go-between. This is quite a common approach when dealing with unusual language pairs, but it does mean that effectively you are translating your text twice.
3. Linguist Living Costs: Where the linguist or LSP (Language Service Provider) is based has an impact on the rates charged. If based in London, overhead costs and salary demands are likely to be a fair bit higher than if they were based in Kathmandu!
4. Work Volume: The greater the volume of work, the more it will cost. Simples. However, pricing can often be leveraged for large pieces of work, allowing you to potentially negotiate a discount for high volume. But it will cost more to translate a thousand pages than it would a hundred, simply due to the time and effort needed.
5. Formatting Requirements: If your document has specific or unusual requirements, or will be published or presented (e.g. a PowerPoint presentation; an instruction manual) it will likely need additional professional formatting work to get it to the highest standard in the target language. The more complex the formatting, the greater the effort and time that needs to be spent on it, therefore the greater the cost.
6. Content Type: Not all content is created equal. Marketing text is much trickier to translate than run of the mill technical documentation. Medical and legal documents are much more complex and specific in their requirements than internal business communications. The more challenging the content type, the more specialised a linguist required, the higher the cost.