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Russian to English Translation: Don’t Fall into This Trap

Become a wiser translation buyer!

Do you have a Russian document that you need translated from Russian into English? Then read this article for useful tips on buying translations wisely.

Work with professionals.

You will find alternatives to professional translations, such as inexperienced, low-cost vendors or machine translation services. However, if your translations are meant for someone outside of your company—a prospective client, a partner, or authorities—and want them to reflect the professionalism of your business, there is no alternative really. Seeking a cheaper or faster solution will likely result in headaches or marketing dollars thrown away. For example, if you get a flawed marketing translation, it turns away clients. If you send a translation of a contract riddled with errors to a partner, they will not take you seriously. I have seen many companies get burnt by bad Russian to English translations, because they put price or speed first: a vendor who forgets about DTP entirely, so the translated file is incomprehensible even though the translation is good. Or a vendor that puts translation up on a website and never bothers to check whether the new language version displays correctly.

By contrast, hiring competent translators means getting much better results, while saving time and giving you peace of mind, knowing that your translation is in good hands—here is an example.

Russian to English translation: native speakers

The question of working with professionals is doubly important with this language combination, because too many translators can translate into English, but too few are actually good at it. The chances are that you will be running into one average translator after another. The reason is that the best translations are done by native speakers of the target language (English in this case), but there are not so many native speakers of English who can translate from Russian:
All Russian to English translators
As a result, you are likely to get one of the translators from the larger part of the pie chart and receive a translation that does not meet your expectations. So how do you make sure your translation is done by a native speaker?

  1. First, confirm this with the translation vendor. If it is an agency, ask the agency to engage a native speaker. If it is an individual, check to make sure this is not someone from China or India who learned English as a second language.
  2. Secondly, look at the price—a low price is almost always a red flag. For instance, a native speaker living in the US and paying US taxes is unlikely to be willing to work for pennies.

If you are consciously going for average quality, then a non-native speaker may be fine. But remember that since you are doing business internationally, saving a few hundreds at the risk of sub-par translations and costly rework might not be a good idea. If you want your business to grow, you invest in marketing (and translation often is marketing), rather than trying to save on it.


Rates differ widely, from as low as $0.05 per translated word to as much as $0.30, again depending on the quality of translation. An extremely sweet rate is alarming, because it will likely mean “high volume, low margin” translators—they just do not have the time and motivation to to think over their translations or proofread them thoroughly. But overpaying does not make sense either, because in this agency-driven business, a high rate often means that a huge chunk goes to a middleman, not to the individuals who actually do the translation. Aiming for the middle of the price range, provided that you like the vendor in all other respects, is often the smartest choice.

Time to find a translation team

Because of the limited pool of excellent translators, finding professionals who can translate from Russian into English well takes time. And even if you have a trusted vendor, it does not mean that they are always available for your projects. In fact, the opposite is true: being in high demand, these vendors are constantly busy. It is therefore important to ensure you have a big cushion of time that allows waiting until the vendor is available. Postponing translation until the very last moment will make engaging your preferred vendor next to impossible, because the chances are that they have a tight schedule already.

In conclusion

To avoid the hassle of finding the right vendor for your Russian to English translation, you can work with a professional agency like ours. As a translation vendor with 10+ years of experience, we have the expertise to arrange excellent translation teams for your projects. Find out more about how we can help you achieve your marketing goals by requesting a free quote.