Translation agency vs. bureau
Thread poster: David Wheatley

David Wheatley  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
German to English
Jun 15, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

I was wondering if there is a difference between a translation agency and a translation bureau.

It seems to me that agency seems to be the more popular description.

I would welcome your thoughts, though.

Regards,

David Wheatley


 

Lynda Bogdan  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:36
English
agency = business bureau = office Jun 15, 2010

Agency implies that this is a company which is involved in the business of providing translation services for a fee.

Bureau implies that this is the translation department of a government organization or company that supplies its own in-house translations.


 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
No difference... Jun 15, 2010

...in my opinion. Agency is more common though.

 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:36
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
As I see it Jun 16, 2010

AFAIK, any agency could call itself a bureau if it wished as there is not a great difference between the two words.

It seems to me that there is perhaps a small nuance of difference, but I may be wrong:

Agency: very little "work" done on site, i.e. translating. They are very much intermediaries and should be competent communicators and managers without necessarily employing (m)any translators.

Bureau: much of the "real work" is done on-site by bureau employees, with some work outsourced as necessary to cope with workload.

But as I say, that's just how it seems to me - I haven't consulted dictionaries etc.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Agree with Sheila Jun 16, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:
Agency: very little "work" done on site, i.e. translating. They are very much intermediaries and should be competent communicators and managers without necessarily employing (m)any translators.
Bureau: much of the "real work" is done on-site by bureau employees, with some work outsourced as necessary to cope with workload.


In my mind I see a translation bureau as a place where the translators are physically present, but in fact the terms aren't standardised anywhere. If an agency wants to call itself a bureau (it may sound better to them) then there's nothing anyone can do.


 

John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Probably a broker Jun 16, 2010

As far as I can see, in Spain anyway, the vast majority of agencies, or bureaux, are simply brokers. Perhaps we should make a point of referring to brokers as brokers, and reserving the labels 'agency' and 'bureau' for those firms that contribute more than just price negotiation skills to the end product.

 

Rebekka Groß (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:36
English to German
@Sheila and my take Jun 16, 2010

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Agency: very little "work" done on site, i.e. translating. They are very much intermediaries and should be competent communicators and managers without necessarily employing (m)any translators.


Interesting take on the concept of agency. This interpretation of them being intermediaries or brokers would apply in other industries, e. g. IT contractors in the UK register with agencies who themselves are contacted by companies if they have a contracting position to fill.

With regards to the translation industry, this may come from the German "Übersetzungsagentur". I remember that in the past when I told people I work for "translation agencies" they all thought it was the above concept when most of my clients have in-house translators as well.

Other than that, translation agency seems to be more widely used, I personally have never heard the term translation bureau in the UK.

I wonder if nowadays they call themselves translation companies/providers/outsourcers etc. rather than "agencies".

[Edited at 2010-06-16 17:01 GMT]


 

Pablo Bouvier  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:36
German to Spanish
+ ...
Translation agency vs. bureau Jun 16, 2010

John Rawlins wrote:

As far as I can see, in Spain anyway, the vast majority of agencies, or bureaux, are simply brokers. Perhaps we should make a point of referring to brokers as brokers, and reserving the labels 'agency' and 'bureau' for those firms that contribute more than just price negotiation skills to the end product.


Agree. The correct name for any true agency/bureau should be "language services provider". Agencies or bureaus in Spain are often a one person running businesa wich unique purpose is to do an intermediation and to make money on both sides (brokering). Of course, there are also serious business people too, but they are a minority.

[Editado a las 2010-06-16 17:27 GMT]


 


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Translation agency vs. bureau

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