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daily capacity
Thread poster: scooty
scooty
Local time: 10:53
English to French
Aug 20, 2005

What's the average daily capacity of a translator ?
I translated different documents but don't have a precise idea. What is yours ?


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xxxIanW
Local time: 10:53
German to English
+ ...
How long is a piece of string? Aug 20, 2005

Hi Scooty,

This depends on so many things: experience, nature and difficulty of the text, typing speed, knowledge of both source and target language and so on.

Given a text of normal difficulty, I can translate and proof-read 250 lines (2000 words, I think) in an 8-hour day - I can type fast, have been translating for five years and living in Germany for seven years.

If I was doing a horribly technical text which was in an area I was not familar with (not a good idea!), I might only get 150 lines done. On the other hand, if you give me a very easy text, like marketing research verbatims, I can do 500-600 lines a day.

Hope this gives you some idea.


Ian


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scooty
Local time: 10:53
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
daily average Aug 20, 2005

Thank you

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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:53
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
link to article on survey on translation speed / daily capacity Aug 20, 2005

see:
translation and editing speeds
http://www.proz.com/post/226722#226722

Jeff
Language Software Tool Reviews:
http://www.geocities.com/langtecheval/


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Daniel Bird  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:53
German to English
There are so many factors of course, Aug 20, 2005

which I won't do you the injustice of pointing out, but as for me, something I'm careful to do when putting in a blind quote for instance, is to put in the 'ugly factor' and underestimate my capacity. So while I'm probably capable of something like Ian's rate of work, and I'm lucky enough to have someone I can sometimes give checking work to (provided she isn't a] doing her own EN-FR work or b] playing with our daughter) I always feel comfortable giving myself about 3 days to turn out 5000 words. Takes away the nasty surprises that way. I'm not one of those Wordfast users who has five+ years' worth of data to call on either so there isn't a huge amount of help in the TM department yet.
If there were a way of improving my output by 50 per cent at a stroke, I would make the effort to master it, otherwise I'll be content with small steps in improvement I've made so far, which all add up.
All the best
Dan


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 01:53
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends on so many factors, but... Aug 21, 2005

... whenever someone asks me what's my output, I feel more comfortable mentioning my maximum hourly output which was related to the six-month daily contribution I made to the Brazilian version of WiredNews website: 1,000 words / hour.

Obviously, I can only reach such output whenever I'm translating into my native language AND dealing with a subject that's really familiar to me; in this case, the language pair was Eng>Port and those news articles were about computers, technology, politics, and culture.

Since I've noticed that clients tend to request this information on a regular basis (as if it would really prove your proficiency and experience), I started timing myself on the other languages I also work with. I've come up with the following:

Port > Eng: 700 words / hour
Port > Spa: 500 words / hour
Eng > Spa: 500 words / hour
Spa > Eng: 600 words / hour
Spa > Port: 800 words / hour

Again, it really depends on how familiar the subject is to you and whether your surroundings are favorable to your working conditions.

To give an example, today I had an Eng>Spa 2,000-word technical brochure about valves to translate and — besides having a terrible PDF file (which zoom had to be set to 200% on Adobe Acrobat!!!) — I had to "dodge" my husband, since it's Saturday and he's home all day and wants to lay back, relax, and spend some time with his wife.

Well, I couldn't finish those 2,000 words in 4 hours, having in mind that I can get up to 500 words / hour for such language pair, but I managed to finish it between 11:45pm and 5:15pm and taking some breaks whenever I got "stuck" at some term (that's when I try to enjoy my lunch time, go e-shopping, and start browsing through my Spanish podcasts to listen to something that can put me in the mood for the task at hand). In the end, it kind of proved my hourly output for the language pair, that is, including the few breaks I took 5h30min to finish something I could have done in 4h.

I think it really comes down to taking a look at the file (or at least getting the most information you can out of the client concerning exact word count, subject, file format...) and negotiating a reasonable deadline for both parties.

Moreover, some sacrifices have to be involved, but it all compensates in the end because I used up my Saturday to work on this project (which deadline is set to Tuesday) instead of leaving it to the last minute (Monday) and possibly turning down other projects that may be offered over the weekend or in the beginning of the next week.

Well, now I better go take a REAL break and get ready to enjoy the rest of my weekend.

Happy translating, everybody!


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:53
French to German
+ ...
This depends on a lot of circumstances Aug 21, 2005

scooty wrote:
What's the average daily capacity of a translator ?
I translated different documents but don't have a precise idea.


Then that's the trouble. If you can't extrapolate from your own work how much time you need, how are we going to do it for you?

Your speed is a function of the kind of translations you do. If you're a sloppy text afficionado, you can just take what is offered through your translation memory, be it even a 75% match, then add a few slight dashes here and there and pass the result off as a "translation". You will be very fast at producing slush.

If OTOH you are very thorough minded, you will sometimes spend minutes and hours searching for a translation of a certain word in a certain context that is just right. You won't get done much per hour in these cases.

Your speed is also a function of the subject matter. If you have to translate texts on a subject you are not too familiar with, you might have to start out with building up your own glossary. The necessary research on the Internet and in your dictionaries can take a long time. If OTOH you've just done a very similar text before, then your translation memory might provide more than 80% of the work for free in nearly perfect matches.

I can only suggest keeping tabs on your own work until you get a feeling for the speed you are comfortable with personally. If you don't have any idea at all, you might simply translate two pages from the Wikipedia, time that using a stop watch, and extrapolate a daily rate from there.

P.

[Edited at 2005-08-21 12:08]


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:53
French to German
+ ...
How long is your "business day"? Aug 21, 2005

Rafa Lombardino wrote:
Again, it really depends on
ether your surroundings are favorable to your working conditions. [...] I had to "dodge" my husband, since it's Saturday and he's home all day and wants to lay back, relax, and spend some time with his wife. [/quote]

And that is another variable.

Just how long is your business day? Can you spend a full eight hours translating or just two (for instance, because the lawn has to be mown and your youngest needs urgent help with his homework)? Is this the only translation you have on your desk or are there some "quick ones" that have to be fit in between?

I personally feel much more comfortable in dealing with weekly capacities than with a daily capacity.

P.

[Edited at 2005-08-21 12:18]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:53
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Work out proposed annual income Aug 21, 2005

I personally took my proposed annual income, deducted 6 weeks for holidays, divided the proposed annual income by 46 weeks, and I had the amount of money that I have to earn each week that I am not on holiday. Then I took the number of hours that I am comfortable working per week (and that I think I ought to put in for the proposed annual income). I divided the amount I have to earn each week by the number of hours I propose to work in a week, and worked out my required hourly pay.

The last step in the process is to make sure you can translate the right number of words per hour to obtain that hourly pay. If not, do something, e.g. build up TMs, improve typing speed...keep on getting organised till you reach the target.

Best of luck!

Astrid


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 01:53
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
home offices... Aug 22, 2005

Peter Bouillon wrote:

Just how long is your business day? Can you spend a full eight hours translating or just two (for instance, because the lawn has to be mown and your youngest needs urgent help with his homework)? Is this the only translation you have on your desk or are there some "quick ones" that have to be fit in between?


I hope I'm not getting off-topic here, but I believe that concerns the major subject of "output capacity" we're discussing. One of its main factors is your environment and there are certainly pros and cons to home offices, for sure. Your environment can really affect your production, most of the times for worse than for the better.

For example, on a usual day I wake up at about 6am and check my inbox in order to follow up with projects that may be hanging in the air or to confirm that new assignments have been accepted and received. Then I get back home at about 8h30 after working out and I follow up on the follow up. At about 9am I'm ready to start working on the projects I have to get done, according to the deadline each one has. I may get to small ones that I would have a couple of days to deal with, so I can finally get them out of the way and concentrate on the larger ones.

I usually work from 9am to 9pm, depending on the workload. I just know that that's my limit because after that there's no way one can go on functioning on a "normal" level. Also, taking brakes is really important, so you can extend your business day for another couple of hours and get everything done. Sometimes it's good to take a 30 minute brake for a decent meal in your living room, so you can enjoy a sitcom or a news show and get your mind off of work so that you can go back to it and get a fresh start.

Of course there are days when only a couple of birth certificates or htmls need to get done, so I only work for half of the day and keep the maintenance and follow up going on every 30 to 90 minutes (because you'll always find those potential clients that will give up on you if you don't reply as soon as you get a message...).

And then there are those days when all your faithful clients need translations at the same time, so you're constantly interrupted by phone calls or email messages that need to be confirmed. Then your negotiation practics kick in. Those are the days when I start creating a list of everything that needs to get done in the order they have to be delivered -- and "first things first" sometimes can't be applied to it.

I guess it all comes down to knowing what you can take on and never trying to gamble. I would rather tell a client that I can only get it done by a certain time than try to rush it to comply with a unrealistic deadline and end up compromising the final quality of the job. Besides, if clients has been working with your for a while and they like the way you do your job, they'll understand if you say (BEFORE taking on the job) that you need an extra 12 hours added to that deadline. This way, you'll only surprise them with an earlier turnaround instead of trying to explain later why you're late in sending a file back or why you made so many mistakes because you didn't have enough time to proofread your own work or at least run a spell check.


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