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Off topic: How many words a person can translate in a day?
Thread poster: chopra_2002

chopra_2002  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 16:09
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Feb 21, 2005

I had the chance of having a chat with one of my friends day before yesterday. During the course of chat, he informed me that he can translate and type 3000-4000 words in just 30 minutes. When I expressed my disbelief, he extended the time and said that he can do so in a maximum time of 60 minutes.

Since you people might be translating from so many years, do you think it is humanly possible to translate and type 3000-4000 words in an hour?

I'd also like to know the maximum number of words you can translate in a day if the subject matter is non-technical.


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:39
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
My maximum would be approximately 1,000 words per hour Feb 21, 2005

when the subject is technical.
But this is possible only on good prepared text from well know field, ie texts comming on regular basis.
With such texts a maximum of 10,000 words per day for two or three days seems IMO reachable. An average maximum of 7,000 per day is what one could keep a week or two. But for the whole year I would see something about 5-6,000 words per day.

Translating and typing 3-4,000 words per hour seems quite impossible to me. This means approximately one word per second. Maybe if you dictate, but not translating and typing at one time.

Regards
Jerzy


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Kathinka van de Griendt  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:39
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Flying hands? Feb 21, 2005

Hi there! Starting with the funny part, I'd say if your friend had flying hands and a computerised brain, and was an absolute boffin at the subject he was translating, it could perhaps be possible to translate so many words within an hour. I personally have never managed to do that. On good days, I average 7000 words per day. Of course I've done more during sleepless nights and overworked weekends, although I didn't guarantee for quality, and that's the issue here, isn't it? We not only offer our services, but we offer to do the job correctly and accurately. Don't become discouraged by someone who brags he can hit so many keys per second. The best-paid translator I know only does 1500 words per customer per day

All the best,
Kathinka


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 03:39
English to French
+ ...
my question... Feb 21, 2005

is your friend a machine?

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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 12:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
2,000 - 3,000 a day Feb 21, 2005

I don't know if I am slower than average, but my usual volume is 2,000-3,000 new words a day (i.e., not counting repetitions or matches), depending on how familiar I am with the subject, how well written the source text is, the format, etc. I think my high has been around 5,000 a day (on very few occasions, and always texts that weren’t particularly difficult). I tend to be a perfectionist and that means I just can't work that fast, especially if the job is something that is almost as much copywriting as translating (marketing texts, tourism, etc.)

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Mary Lalevee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:39
French to English
Speed Feb 21, 2005

I have been translating for ten years. If a doc is easy for me, I can translate maybe 4,000 words a day. Otherwise it's about 3,000.

I can't believe what your friend says, he's pulling your leg!

Mary


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Article about typing speeds Feb 21, 2005

An interesting article on "average" typing speed.

Typing Speed: How Fast is Average?
4,000 typing scores statistically analyzed and interpreted
By Teresia R. Ostrach
After 27 years in the Staffing Industry, I've encountered just about every misconception regarding the performance of office workers. The most frustrating of these is the belief in what constitutes "average" typing scores. I've seen people lose out on jobs or promotions because the companies they applied to had unrealistic standards for typing speeds.
or years I tried to explain that 65 WPM is a lot faster than average, but I had no proof. After all, everybody knows what an average typist is, right? Somebody who types between 50 and 60 WPM? Well, isn't it? Well, NO, it's not!

In 1976 I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Alan Lloyd, at that time the world's foremost authority on typing. Virtually anybody who learned to type in the 1950's and 1960's learned from one of his books. I asked him, "How fast is average typing anyway?" His answer was less than definitive but pointed me in the right direction. He said, "Less than half the population of the world has the manual dexterity to wiggle their fingers at the speed of 50 words per minute or better." [/QUOTE]
Read the rest of the article at: http://www.fivestarstaff.com/publication_typing.htm


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Sormane Fitzgerald Gomes  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:39
Member (2004)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Same here. Feb 21, 2005

Cindy Chadd wrote:

I don't know if I am slower than average, but my usual volume is 2,000-3,000 new words a day (i.e., not counting repetitions or matches), depending on how familiar I am with the subject, how well written the source text is, the format, etc. I think my high has been around 5,000 a day (on very few occasions, and always texts that weren’t particularly difficult). I tend to be a perfectionist and that means I just can't work that fast, especially if the job is something that is almost as much copywriting as translating (marketing texts, tourism, etc.)



2500-3000 for me.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
how long is a piece of a string? Feb 21, 2005

Sormane Gomes wrote:

Cindy Chadd wrote:

I don't know if I am slower than average, but my usual volume is 2,000-3,000 new words a day (i.e., not counting repetitions or matches), depending on how familiar I am with the subject, how well written the source text is, the format, etc. I think my high has been around 5,000 a day (on very few occasions, and always texts that weren’t particularly difficult). I tend to be a perfectionist and that means I just can't work that fast, especially if the job is something that is almost as much copywriting as translating (marketing texts, tourism, etc.)



2500-3000 for me.


In general I coincide with Cindy and Sormane, as about that average.

I have drafted maybe 5000 or 6000 (more?) a day, literally just chucking it in teh computer somehow, but then I go back over it again, a number of times. It's my way of working, I dislike the drafting the part, I treat it as more or less the initial read. Once I've 'read' it and got the whole picture I work my way through it again a number of times.

I did 3000 recently in about 5 hours, no particular difficulty with the text. Another text of about 900 technical words took about 2 days!

Things is, how long is your day? Mine is often even overnight as I get on a roll, especially when finishing up a text... recently I worked all day Sat, thru' the night until midday Sun.

That said, there's the swings and the roundabouts. I wouldn't commit myself to more than 10,000-12,000 words a week. I hate being under pressure, llike Cindy, i prefer to have the time to do a proper job.


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ace-translation  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:39
English to French
+ ...
Typing is not translating Feb 21, 2005

Hello,
If we take into account secretarial standards of about 45 words per minute, a well trained secretary should be able to type 2700 words/hour. This, of course, is only possible if she/he maintains the same output for 60 minutes (without blowing her/his nose, drinking, sneezing, yawning...)
It is also worth mentioning that we are only talking about typing here and not translating...
I usually translate 2500 to 3000 words per day. Sometimes more, sometimes much less...
Cheers
Fabrizio


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 05:39
Spanish to English
+ ...
Translating is more than typing Feb 21, 2005

ace-translation wrote:
If we take into account secretarial standards of about 45 words per minute, a well trained secretary should be able to type 2700 words/hour. This, of course, is only possible if she/he maintains the same output for 60 minutes (without blowing her/his nose, drinking, sneezing, yawning...)
It is also worth mentioning that we are only talking about typing here and not translating...
I usually translate 2500 to 3000 words per day. Sometimes more, sometimes much less...


I hope my post on typing speeds isn't misinterpreted as saying that typing and translating are almost alike. My point is that if a good typist can only type, say 2000 words per hour (allowing time for blowing the nose, drinking, etc.), (and who could keep that up without a break for hour after hour?), then any claim for translation speed has to take this figure as a baseline. It would be unreal to imagine that someone could translate faster than a mere typist could type. Of course, there's speech recognition software, but the results still have to be checked afterwards, and to compare finished translation times the checking time has to be included.

[Edited at 2005-02-21 22:23]


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Mark Xiang
Local time: 18:39
English to Chinese
+ ...
That is what I do in rendering a quality translation! Feb 22, 2005

Kathinka Lavelle wrote:

The best-paid translator I know only does 1500 words per customer per day

Kathinka


Absolutely True!


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Mihail M Mateev
Bulgaria
Local time: 13:39
Member
English to Bulgarian
+ ...
2400-2600 words a day Feb 22, 2005

my last project was about this quantity of words.
I have started it about 8.00h morning and I have finished it about 0.40h past midnight. Well, there was included the time for my baby, for eating, resting, searching for some words in Internet, etc.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:39
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
It also depends on language... Feb 22, 2005

I was beginning to think I was slow... but I do somewhere between 2000 - 4000 words a day.

A text with 1000 words in Danish, for instance, works out at about 1250 English words because of differences in language structure. (Definite articles are not always separate words in Danish for a start...)

One of the agencies I work for has gone over to paying by word count from the source text where possible. They say it leaves the translator free to choose the best translation, not the wordiest, and they can also tell the end client a fixed price when they make the offer.

But if they send a PDF file or a fax, they pay at a different rate for target language words. I've tried calculating where I can - I get about the same in money whichever way they work it out...

But word counts are still very different from language to language, as well as subject matter and all the other factors.


[Edited at 2005-02-22 08:26]


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Deschant
Local time: 11:39
Mistake? Feb 22, 2005

langclinic wrote:

I had the chance of having a chat with one of my friends day before yesterday. During the course of chat, he informed me that he can translate and type 3000-4000 words in just 30 minutes. When I expressed my disbelief, he extended the time and said that he can do so in a maximum time of 60 minutes.


Maybe he made a mistake and meant 300-400 words (which seems a good average to me either), or 3000-4000 characters... who knows...


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