# Character-to-word ratio for CHN, JPN and KOR to English

Character-to-word ratio for CHN, JPN and KOR to English
harrira
Local time: 16:59
French to English
 Aug 24, 2006

Hi,
I work in the translation unit of a company where we translate software and user manuals for our equipment.
I would like to know the character-to-word ratio for Chinese to English. That is, 100 Chinese characters = XXX English words. Also need the ratio for Korean to English and Japanese to English.
I would appreciate any information on any commonly adopted ratio, or where I should go to get such info.
Thanks,
harrira

KathyT
Australia
Local time: 00:59
Japanese to English
 Japanese to English Character/Word ratio Aug 25, 2006

I couldn't say for Chinese or Korean, but as a rule, you can use a ratio of 2.5 for Japanese to English. That is, divide the number of Japanese characters by 2.5 to get an approximate word count estimate in English. (Eg. 1,000 J characters = 400 E words, approx.)
There are many factors that may affect this, however, for example if the Japanese text contains many words written in katakana, etc.
Anyway, HTH a little.

casey
United States
Local time: 10:59
Member
Japanese to English
 Agree with Kathy Aug 25, 2006

Like Kathy says, there are many factors that determine this. To get an accurate estimate for the work you do you would need to actually do the math on a few actual translation jobs. Also, Kathy's estimate is what a freelancer would use for personal reference. As a company if you are going to estimate jobs for clients and you are charging based on target words/characters, you are going to have to overestimate so as not to end up sending the client a bill that is higher than your original estimate. For example, Kathy's example is to divide the Japanese characters by 2.5. If you are providing a customer with an estimate you will need to divide by 2 instead.

[Edited at 2006-08-25 09:25]

harrira
Local time: 16:59
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
 Now for Character/Word ratio for Chn-to-Eng and Kor-to-Eng Aug 25, 2006

Thanks Kathy and Casey.
The reason for my query is that we are setting rates with a translation agency for translations between English and a range of languages, in both directions. All rates are based on source word count. For example, if Eng-to-Ger costs 15 cents per source word, then Ger-to-Eng also costs 15 cents per source word. However, a problem arises with Asian languages. If Eng-to-Chn (or to Jpn or to Kor) costs, say, 15 cents per source word, then we need to determine the ratio between Chn characters and Eng words (1000 Chn chars = X English words) in order to set the price per source Chn character.
According to Kathy's ratio of 2.5:1, if Eng to Jpn costs 15 cents per word, then Jpn-to-Eng costs 6 cents per character, that is, 15 divided by 2.5 = 6 cents. [That the market price may not be the same for, say, Eng-to-Jpn and Jpn-to-Eng is another matter, and outside the present topic.]
I realize, of course, that buyer and translator have opposite interests in the way this ratio swings.
Who can tell me the ratio for Chinese-to-English and Korean-to-English???

Angus Woo
Local time: 22:59
Chinese to English
+ ...
 It depends Aug 26, 2006

Well, as for Chinese character to English word ratio, it varies from time to time. In general it would be around 100 Chinese characters to 170 English words or less.

Nevertheless, if it's a poem, then the ratio would be greater than that.

Hope it helps.

harrira
Local time: 16:59
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
 Korean to English: Character-to-word ratio Aug 29, 2006

Thanks Angus. Is there agreement with 100 Chinese characters = 170 English words?

Who can tell me about Korean for translation of tech documentation???

Angus Woo
Local time: 22:59
Chinese to English
+ ...
 I don't think so Aug 31, 2006

harrira wrote:

Thanks Angus. Is there agreement with 100 Chinese characters = 170 English words?

Who can tell me about Korean for translation of tech documentation???

Well, Harrira, I don't really think so. It depends on your client.

Brian Lin
Local time: 22:59
 For Chinese and English ratio Sep 28, 2012

170-210 Chinese characters = 100 English words

In Ms Word, the word count for Chinese shows number of word, it's actually is Chinese character.
Chinese does not leave spaces in between words, so you can only count text by Chinese characters, not by word. and most of Chinese words have 2 characters.

harrira wrote:

Thanks Angus. Is there agreement with 100 Chinese characters = 170 English words?

Who can tell me about Korean for translation of tech documentation???

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### Character-to-word ratio for CHN, JPN and KOR to English

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