Cost and method of translating a technical book into Farsi?
March 8, 2008 11:08 PM   Subscribe

How much would it cost to translate a large, highly technical computer book into Farsi (Persian)? What method would be best to accomplish this?

The book in question would be about 400 to 600 pages and consist of highly technical UNIX / computer networking material. About the same level of complexity as the current edition of an intermediate to advanced level O'Reilly TCP/IP, BIND or Linux book. Some of the books we are looking at translating are more technical and involve optical and/or RF theory, or other more specialized vertical industry knowledge which is much less common than intermediate level x86 Linux/BSD skill.

The technical concepts within the book would not be translated into Farsi - for example, we're not going to translate line by line the output of a 'dmesg' command on FreeBSD 6.3 into a foreign language. Unix concepts which have their own names in English and unix CLI stuff will remain in English. This would be similar to the way I have seen Japanese Linux/BSD software developers work, with the code, CVS and system operating in English while the documentation is in Kanji.

However all of the 'this is how you do this' part of the book would need to be translated. The descriptive sections talking about how, why and where a computer or networked set of computers are doing a particular thing, the whole narrative of the book. The skill of the English to Farsi translator would need to be of a fairly high level, to deal with abstract concepts and explanations of highly complex systems.

At first glance it seems like such a service performed within the boundaries of North America would be relatively expensive. Many of the native Farsi speakers who have the knowledge to translate such a book into Farsi are already employed full-time at another job, work for some 3-letter intelligence agency, or so on. I'm aware that Iran has an extremely young population compared to the rest of the world and a large number of unemployed (or underemployed) university students.

Can anyone estimate how much it would cost to hire a masters English student from a major school in Iran? Would doing something like this possibly be helpful towards their course credit or CV? Can anyone estimate the monthly salary for a relatively skilled English-speaking unix/routing/telecom geek inside Iran?
posted by thewalrus to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I can't answer your immediate questions, but it might be difficult to hire these services of Iranians if you are American, regardless if your business operates within the United States or not.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 PM on March 8, 2008

Response by poster: Oh, I did forget to mention, this would be performed by a European company... We're familiar with the US embargo, OFAC and Commerce Control List.
posted by thewalrus at 11:26 PM on March 8, 2008

We do similar things at work for English<>French. In an area where this service is common, we pay 25 to 40 cents (CAD) per word for translation. For official purposes (high quality translation), for a technical document, we'd pay something like $25k to $50k (CAD) for translation, editing and printing. In terms of time, a book of that length would take several months to translate. Start to finish, with editorial review, back and forth to the printers, etc... I would budget 9 to 12 moths for this kind of project.

Rule of thumb: it takes about as much time to translate as it does to write. You may be able to do this cheaper than commercial rates, but I doubt you could do it faster. Ideally, you want to hire a native Farsi speaker who is fluent in English, NOT the other way around. Also, in the best case, you'll want a second Farsi-speaker who can copy-edit the first.
posted by bonehead at 6:58 AM on March 9, 2008

Bonehead has it, although I think you could get it done in six months. I'm wondering if 25 to 40 cents covers project management costs, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:59 AM on March 9, 2008

As for contacting highly educated and underemployed Master's inside Iran, try running this query by the local Bahai centre in London.
posted by Wilder at 2:07 PM on March 9, 2008

KokuRyu, you're right about time---we normally have a peer review phase which adds 3-4 months. Half a year is probably doable. That 25 to 40 cents/word is translation only, not edited cop. The price range reflects turnaround and contractor variation. Surprisingly, price doesn't seem to indicate quality; our best guy is also our cheapest and fastest (but non-union).
posted by bonehead at 11:37 PM on March 9, 2008

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