On average, 100 words of non-English text will be translated into how many English words?
Thread poster: English Chinese Medical Translator - Jimmy Deng

English Chinese Medical Translator - Jimmy Deng  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:49
English to Chinese
+ ...
Dec 7, 2004

Thanks in advance!

[Edited at 2005-08-11 10:27]

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Local time: 13:49
English to French
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French Dec 7, 2004

Hi Jimmy

The French version can be anywhere between 0 and 30% longer than the English version of the same document depending on the translator, the subject matter and other factors as well.

Good luck

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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 16:49
German to English
No fixed ratio Dec 8, 2004

A lot depends upon the text. Sometimes it's possible to use fancy words in the target language which might minimize the word count. On the other hand, with parts lists, for example, going from German>English, it's possible to have 100% expansion of the word count, a simple example is "Brennkammer" which becomes 2 words ("combustion chamber") in English. Sometimes one German word will require almost a whole sentence to translate, such as Vergangenheitsbewältigung ("coming to terms with a dodgy past").

On the whole I agree with the person who first responded, that a 30% increase in word volume would not be unusual.

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:49
English to Spanish
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Spanish Dec 8, 2004

When going from Spanish to English, the English version will generally be somewhat shorter, usually by no more than 10%. From English to Spanish it can often expand by 10% - 15%. There are some cases where they can turn out to be more or less equal.

This is very much a function of style of the original, the subject dealt with and the translator's style. There is no set general rule except for the fact that Spanish usually needs somewhat more words and space for the same thing. This rule is particularly important when dealing with material that is in tight formats and it has to go from English to Spanish. A "space crunch" can often result.

Hope this helps.

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PTSGI  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:49
Member (2002)
Chinese to Spanish
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Japanese and Korean Dec 8, 2004

Dear Jimmy,

For Japanese or Korean into English, first you check how many Japanese or Korean characters then divide from/between 1.6% to 2% so you can pressume how many English words after the translation. That's the usual standard outcome but not as an exact figure.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:49
Turkish to English
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The word count increases dramatically from Turkish. Dec 8, 2004

It is a major source of difficulty for translators from Turkish into English when asked to quote on a source wordcount basis, because the word count increases so dramatically. The reason is that Turkish is an agglutinating language that adds strings of suffixes to words, corresponding to concepts that are expressed as articles, prepositions, auxiliary verbs and other separate words in English.

To give a few examples with English equivalent in brackets:

ev (house)
evim (my house)
evimde (in my house)
evimdeki (which is in my house)
evimdekiler (the ones that are in my house)
evimdekilerden (from the ones that are in my house)

Evimi boyadým. (I painted my house) (The final -i of 'evim' forms the objective case)
Evimi boyattým. (I had my house painted)
Evimi boyarken ... ( ... while I was painting my house)
Boyattýðým evi görenler yeni olmadýðýný inanamýyorlar.
(Those who see the house that I got painted can't believe that it isn't new)

In the last example we see six Turkish words translating into seventeen English words. I think you have got the point.
In Turkey, translation agencies always operate on the basis of the number of characters rather than words, as this does not change so much between Turkish and European languages. This is a far more logical way of working for the Turkish-English language pair.

I would like to finish by quoting one final famous example of a single word that can be formed in Turkish:

Avrupalýlaþtýrýlamayanlardaným (I am one of those who cannot be Europeanised)

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English Chinese Medical Translator - Jimmy Deng  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 08:49
English to Chinese
+ ...
Thank you very much everyone! Dec 10, 2004

Thank you very much everyone!

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On average, 100 words of non-English text will be translated into how many English words?

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