Advice appreciated: Charge by source or target words?
Thread poster: SLBarnard
SLBarnard  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:48
Italian to English
+ ...
Sep 17, 2008

I have been translating from my native language (English) into Italian for a while, but I am now stepping up the amount I do and concentrating on doing more translations than anything else now and I need to know something which is fundamentally important regarding rates. I have read the 'average rates' but what I would like to know is whether the rate per WORD refers to words in the original (source) language or the words in my (the target) language? This is, I know, an extremely rudimentary question for probably everybody who is reading this, but it is obviously essential for me to know this before I decide how much I should be charging for any piece of work I carry out. Many thanks to all of you for helping me out!

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-09-17 19:09]


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on theories Sep 17, 2008

First of all, let me wish you lots of luck in this endeavour!

Now, this is a matter of theory really. But it is a fact that most agencies ordering translations from you will have some way of counting the source words and the price they will pay you will be based on the source wordcount. So you might want to take that as your main reference and base your rates in source words.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:48
English to French
+ ...
Usually source words, but... you decide Sep 17, 2008

The common practice is to charge by source word. However, you are a freelancer and you can charge any way you seem fit. As a freelancer, you decide how much your work is worth and what method you use to calculate the price. It takes a bit of getting used to, but don't forget that as a freelancer, you make your own decisions and you don't have to follow orders or fit in with the crowd.

All the best!


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 01:48
Dutch to English
+ ...
Not necessarily .... Sep 17, 2008

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

The common practice is to charge by source word.


... depends, among other things, on language pair and country - but, in any event, just adjust your rates accordingly and be ready either way depending on whether your target language generally expands or contracts in comparison to the source language when translated.

In other words, if you translate from English to Italian, you'll probably find - depending on the type of texts you translate - that your Italian text will have a larger word count than your English text as English is generally more concise.

Let's say, after you review a few jobs like those you would normally translate, that you find the average difference is around 20%. If you charge on source word count, you then need to charge 20% more than you would if you were charging on a target word count basis.

So, if your rate for English to Italian is EUR 0.10 based on target word count, you'd need to be charging around EUR 0.12 if you are charging on source word count to compensate for this.

It's not a exact science - and, at the end of the day, you need to be earning a certain amount per hour to remain profitable - but this should give you some pointers.

[Edited at 2008-09-17 16:53]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:48
English to French
+ ...
Common practice Sep 17, 2008

A common practice is just what its name says: common. It's not all-encompassing. That's why I said that the point is to make sure you charge as you deem fit, even if that may mean straying from the majority. As a freelancer, you have the freedom to do that.

I personally charge by the source word most of the time - but it's happened to me that I charged by the target word, by the hour, etc. You just need to figure out what suits you best, depending on the type, the size and the format of the documents you translate. If I was to work mostly on PDFs, for example, then I probably would charge by the target word or by the line. If the client doesn't like it, they are free to shop around.


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SLBarnard  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:48
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
translators: your advice WAS greatly appreciated! Sep 17, 2008

The three of you who have so kindly replied to my post (and so promptly too) have helped me enormously...you are obviously very sympathetic to people like me who are only just starting and trying to muddle through how it all works at this early stage - thank you for taking the time to help out!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:48
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
See my previous thread Sep 17, 2008

SLBarnard wrote:
...what I would like to know is whether the rate per WORD refers to words in the original (source) language or the words in my (the target) language?


See the thread I initiated a while ago:
http://www.proz.com/forum/business_issues/114617-a_question_for_those_charging_per_target_word.html


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Paola Dossan
Italy
Local time: 02:48
English to Italian
+ ...
Consider the Italian standard too Sep 17, 2008

Dear friend and colleague,
I do agree with the opinions the previous colleagues have shared. However, please do not forget the Italian standard since you live in Italy: Italian agencies quite commonly charge translations by page (1500 or 1375 keystrokes) referring to the target text.
This is just one more way to see it.
I personally prefer to charge per page to Italian clients and per word to foreign ones (they are more used to it).
However, as Victoria puts it, remember you are a freelancer, you are your own boss, you are the one who decides: so figure out what best suits you and your usual clients... that's it!
Good luck.
Paola


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