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Localization rates: per word or per hour?
Thread poster: Vitaliy Plinto

Vitaliy Plinto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:04
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 25, 2008

Dear translators and localization specialists,

I have recently been asked by a translation agency to specify minimum rates for specific services that I would be willing to provide to them. Although I am generally familiar with translation, editing and proofreading rates for my language pairs (EN-RU, RU-EN, IT-EN, EN-IT, RU-IT, IT-RU), I was not able to find information on localization rates for the pairs in question. Are localization rates typically higher, lower or about the same as translation rates? Also, do translators typically charge a per hour or a per word rate for localization services? I would greatly appreciate if you can help me find answers to these questions. Thank you very much for your help and cooperation!



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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:04
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
I'd fill in an hourly rate Nov 25, 2008

I'd fill in my normal hourly rate. Your minimum rates will of course become your maximum rates and it's hard to tell in advance what you should charge per word for localisation jobs. Sometimes localisation involves Excel sheets, sometimes (tagged) HTML and sometimes you have to prepare all files yourself.


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Irene Schlotter, Dipl.-Übers.
Local time: 02:04
English to German
+ ...
Localization is very often misunderstood... Nov 25, 2008 being synonymous with 'translation', and that is a big mistake. Do not accept any localization work on a per-word basis because otherwise you end up not invoicing half or even more of your professional effort.

Apparently you are not very familiar with localization so you should get some more in-depth information in order to be ready for this job.

Here comes a list of general issues that virtually ALWAYS turn up in ANY product requiring localization. Please do note that the mentioned examples are valid for English to German as I am not familiar with the specific issues for Russian.

- Date formats
English/American: September 11, 2008 or 09/11/2008 (MM DD YY or YYYY) or the like
German: 11. September 2008 (DD MM YY or YYYY) or 11. 09. 2008
- Hour formats
English/American: 12-hour rhythm with am/pm
German: 24-hour rhythm
- Calendar layouts
American (don't know about English): First day of the week is Sunday
German: First day of the week MUST Be Monday
- Thousand separators, decimal separators
English/American: 10,899.34 meaning ten thousand eight hundred ninety nine point three four
German: 10.899,34 OR 10 899,34
Thus in German the American comma in numbers MUST be replaced with a period and the American comma MUST be replaced with a period or a space.

The above issues are all absolutely mandatory; if the developer cannot manage to implement the necessary adaptions the product is not ready for localization (and there are official DIN/ISO guidelines for that, too).

More generic issues that tend to occur very often are concatenations, i. e. the use of several individual strings in order to form one sentence, preferably one that contains variables on top. That may well work with the straightforward grammar of English, but always causes disasters in German (with the verb at the very end). Concatenations are no-nos in software development; they can kill any good translation effort because you may end up adapting one combination in one place and be rewarded with a completely scrambled one in another.
Just imagine this:

*1* To view which *2* [media] is [status] *3*, click the [button label] button.
In the above example you have 3 elements:
To view which = string # 1
[media] is [status] = string # 2, containing two variables
click the [button label] button = string # 2

For string 2 imagine that
- [media] can be either of the following:
drive, disk, external backup device, remote backup location, printer, fax (just consider the different genders for those elements)
- [status] can be either of the following:
connected, disconnected, active, enabled, disabled, paused

For string 3 imagine that
- [button label] can be any button label - depending on the two variables before.

Now, to spice up things a bit, also imagine that string # 2 is also used in tables indicating the status of different components, i. e. the word order cannot be chosen very freely as *[media] is [status]* on its own must make sense.

Of course the translation work involved here is just 7 words plus the16 words for the variables plus the button labels). Figuring out a way how to solve the issue if the developer is reluctant or unable to abolish this concantenation can cost you a lot of time because you need to be aware of any combination and occurrence of all the above strings involved.

I think you got the point by now: localization means adapting to your own locale with all its implications. If red lights in your country are actually blue, i. e. blue indicates that a pedestrian must not cross the street and orange indicates that crossing is now safe, then even the corresponding icons should be changed from red and green to blue and orange. First, this must be reported, i. e. you need to write a bug report/open a defect with screen captures, describing the problem, the platform and how to reproduce the problem. This takes time - lots of time, and the customer is likely to start discussing whether all those changes are really necessary. Yes, they are. And no, they don't come free of charge.

Vitaliy, I hope you got a better idea now.

[Bearbeitet am 2008-11-25 20:27 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2008-11-25 20:28 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2008-11-25 20:29 GMT]

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