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Percentage increase/decrease in volume when a language is translated
Thread poster: Colin Ryan
Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Italian to English
+ ...
Dec 1, 2005

Hi there
Where I work now, we're wondering how much a text in our company's working language (Italian) increases or decreases when it is translated. For example, we know from experience that English to Italian will increase the character count by around 15% (and therefore translating in the other direction will reduce it by around 15%).
Anyone know if there's a site where this kind of information is documented? (Not just for Italian, but for all languages).
For the curious, the list we need to populate is as follows:

Italiano Inglese -15%
Italiano Francese
Italiano Tedesco
Italiano Spagnolo
Italiano Polacco
Italiano Ceco
Italiano Slovacco
Italiano Lettone
Italiano Estone
Italiano Lituano
Italiano Rumeno
Italiano Ucraino
Italiano Russo
Italiano Sloveno
Italiano Serbo
Italiano Bosniaco
Italiano Croato
Italiano Bulgaro
Italiano Ungherese
Italiano Turco
Italiano Cinese
Inglese Italiano +15%
Francese Italiano
Tedesco Italiano
Spagnolo Italiano
Polacco Italiano
Ceco Italiano
Slovacco Italiano
Lettone Italiano
Estone Italiano
Lituano Italiano
Rumeno Italiano
Ucraino Italiano
Russo Italiano
Sloveno Italiano
Serbo Italiano
Bosniaco Italiano
Croato Italiano
Bulgaro Italiano
Ungherese Italiano
Turco Italiano
Cinese Italiano

Thanks for any help you can give.
Colm

PS Edited - I swapped around the + and - signs. Thanks for pointing that out! (argh, che vergogna.)


[Edited at 2005-12-01 17:05]


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Amy Williams  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:59
Italian to English
+ ...
English Dec 1, 2005

Hi Colm,
I'd be inclined to make a list of these languages in English - most of them are obvious, but not everyone will instantly recognise "tedesco", etc.
Just a thought.
Good luck,
Amy

added later...
D'oh! OK, I guess it doesn't really matter - people who've translated into or out of Italian are likely to understand it anyway - sorry!

[Edited at 2005-12-01 14:18]


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pidzej  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 10:59
Polish to English
+ ...
get your pluses and minuses right for starters Dec 1, 2005

ryancolm wrote:

For example, we know from experience that English to Italian will increase the character count by around 15% (and therefore translating in the other direction will reduce it by around 15%).

Italiano Inglese +15%

Inglese Italiano -15%



what you say in the intro just does not add up if followed by the two examples. Anybody else reads "Italiano Inglese + 15%" as meaning that the English text will be longer by more than one-seventh than the original? unless you meant Italiano = Inglese + 15% ?
interesting topic but let's be sure we understand each other.
cheers, PJ


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:59
Flemish to English
+ ...
German Dec 1, 2005

tedesco : german isn't it...

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ldillma
United States
Local time: 04:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
percentages per lang Dec 1, 2005

About 10 years ago I worked in a translation agency
that had figures for English on this. Not for all of
the languages you´re interested in, but for major
European and Asian languages. I´m sorry to say the
only figure I recall was 20% for English-Spanish, but
I am sure ours was not the only agency to work out their
rates based on this type of info. Anyone else?

xLisa


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tedesco = German Dec 1, 2005

Williamson wrote:

tedesco : german isn't it...


Yes.


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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Other combinations welcome... Dec 1, 2005

I'm looking for figures from Italian to/from other languages, but of course if anyone wants to post figures here for any other language combination, please feel free. It's all useful information...
Colm


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
No set rule Dec 1, 2005

In English - Spanish, Spanish -English the Spanish will normally be longer and the English shorter, with an average difference of 10% - 15%. However, this is quite variable according to the type of text. In my experience, legal texts and some others can often come out just about equal going either way.

It often depends on the type of material being translated.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 11:59
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Your math doesn't hold Dec 1, 2005

If the text increases by 15 percent when translating from English into Italian, it will not decrease by 15 % when translating from Italian into English, but by 13.04348 percent.


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 11:59
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Hebrew to English Dec 2, 2005

I tell my clients that Hebrew to English word counts inflate from 25-40 percent. That is mainly as a result of no articles, independent prepositions, independent indirect objects, auxilliary verbs, not to mention just being a more "efficient" language with words. I did not say "effective"!

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Colin Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Ahem. Right. Dec 2, 2005

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

If the text increases by 15 percent when translating from English into Italian, it will not decrease by 15 % when translating from Italian into English, but by 13.04348 percent.


Fair enough.
Colm


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Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Spanish - English Dec 2, 2005

Agreement with Henry. I often find the difference in word counts between Spanish and English to be negligable. According to my translation education, Spanish is about 5 to 10 percent longer than English. However, from my own experience it typically is only slightly longer, perhaps by 1 to 3 percent.

On the other hand, a badly written legal text by a windy Spanish lawyer might be over 10 percent longer than the translated English. It all depends.


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:59
Member (2011)
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
previous posts on language swell Dec 3, 2005

The growth in character sequences during the translation process has been referred to in the past as "language swell".

See:
http://www.proz.com/post/178624


Jeff
http://www.geocities.com/jeffallenpubs/


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Aurélie DANIEL  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:59
English to French
+ ...
My experience in English to French Dec 19, 2005

In my own experience, going from English to French will increase the wordcount by 10 or 12%.

Recently, a customer asked that the increase in the wordcount be kept down (tight budget and invoicing per target word), and the final figure was +7%. The subject matter was the employment policy in the EU, and I must say I was quite pleased with the result, as I found that keeping down the swelling of the text actually improved the overall quality.

I guess there are two components here:
- the additional criteria made me think harder and tailor the sentences more finely,
- with fewer words the text is bound to be more fluid.

So now I am watching the target wordcount more closely.

Well I just wanted to share this, even if not completely relevant to the original question.


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Vito Smolej
Germany
Local time: 10:59
Member (2004)
English to Slovenian
+ ...
my two slovenian cents Dec 19, 2005

My experience: EN to Slovenian somewhere in + 5-10%. EN to German (si dice tedesco, si?) much fatter, I think it's in the +10-20%. I just know (Im in software business 9 to 5) that it can be quite a drag, if software is not flexible enough to take the slack...

btw, I gave up counting target words - everybody just pays the source. May be the agencies think we would bloat, if not kept on leash.

A question to ponder: is the bloat a transitive language property? Example: does EN > IT + 15% and EN > SL +5% result in IT > SL -10%? My answer: very probably. But ... what's the diff:)

smo



[Edited at 2005-12-19 22:33]


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