Translation services are most frequently priced according to the number of words for translation. A new client unfamiliar with this pricing method once asked us “do you count all the words including ‘ands’, ‘buts’, and other easy words?” The answer? Yes.
While all words count in pricing translation services (although some words can be considered as repetitions and priced at a lower rate) it’s somewhat misleading to think of human translators working through a body of text on a word-by-word basis. Bilingual dictionaries can function nicely to determine a potential translation for a single word or phrase.
Translation though is not a about single words and phrases, but instead about conveying meaning, in context, and with an appropriate tone for the subject matter. These types of language considerations are best handled by skilled human linguists. There is a direct correlation between the total number of words in a source text for translation and the level of effort required for translation services.
Dictionaries can suffice for providing options for translation of words and phrases. Meaning can usually best be conveyed in a variety of ways according to the professional judgment of a skilled native speaking linguist. In this sense dictionaries and translation are at different ends on the spectrum of language.