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Special rates for target length limitation?
Thread poster: MariusV

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:37
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Dec 18, 2008

A practical situation - I reached an agreement with my client for the "standard rate". However, I received a specific job where there is a strict limitation to source-translation ratio length. In other words, these are software strings where, if translation is made longer, it can cause serious problems in relation to the product for which these are translated/localized. And there is an instruction - translation/target language length per sentence/segment/phrase shall not exceed 10 per cent in the length compared to the source. And the main problem here is that my target language words are "physically" by some 30 per cent longer than English (source), let alone that some terms, where source contains one short word, can be only traslated as 2 (and even more) longer words in target. Abbreviation/"cutting off" the target words like ("Mesassage" into "Msg." in EN) is not a solution either. And the actual work (time and effort) for 4000 words where these can be usually done in 2 normal days, will be at least 3 or even 4 days.

Are the any special rate schemes for translations with target text length limitations? Any ideas?

[Edited at 2008-12-18 02:38 GMT]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:37
English to Spanish
+ ...
Work it out Dec 18, 2008

You need to work this out with the client, no one else. The client needs to know the realities involved and decide whether or not you are going to do the job. And that's it. So tell the client what you can deliver, and ask him if that's OK.

If the client does not agree, then he knows not what he is doing, and you do not need to be doing work for him. If he does, then you are in luck.


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:37
French to English
One idea Dec 18, 2008

How reasonable is your client?
I take it your "standard rate" is meant to be the rate that usually applies, and that you have not, as yet, actually agreed anything for this particular job?
(Obviously, if you have... I fear it may be too bad....)

Anyway, assuming negotiations are still open, why not provide the client with a few examples of typical issues, as you have described, with:
i) the Eng source
ii) your usual (Lithuanian?) translation
iii) your proposed 110%-length version

and some idea how long it takes to come up with the ones in iii), and an indication of what proportion of the 'usual' translations you might use in ii) will need to be trimmed to reach the iii) version.

Something quantified and concrete, I feel, is probably the most persuasive tool.

It's the kind of thing that is really hard to get across to someone who has never tried it - I had to try it once with a huge list of industrial classification descriptions, it took over a week - had to make sure the short versions were all unique, of course. When I started, I thought it would take a couple of days at most.....


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:37
English to Polish
+ ...
No additional charge Dec 18, 2008

Personally I do not charge more for such jobs, unless a client forgets to tell me about limitation before I start work and strings/OSD have to be reworked later, for which I charge my standard proofreading rate (per hour).

As for problems with shortening long word to their English short equivalents (Polish has similar problem, words are usually long), I try to comply, but inform the client that in some cases the Polish "translation" is not/may not be compreherensible and it would be advisable if the end client would allow longer words.
In most cases end clients don't seem to care


Anni


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:37
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
why work for free Dec 18, 2008

M. Anna Kańduła wrote:

Personally I do not charge more for such jobs, unless a client forgets to tell me about limitation before I start work and strings/OSD have to be reworked later, for which I charge my standard proofreading rate (per hour).

As for problems with shortening long word to their English short equivalents (Polish has similar problem, words are usually long), I try to comply, but inform the client that in some cases the Polish "translation" is not/may not be compreherensible and it would be advisable if the end client would allow longer words.
In most cases end clients don't seem to care


Anni


Say, standard turnaround with standard texts will be 2000 words per day. They project is 4000 words, and not 2, but 3 or even 4 days will be needed (upon my estimation). And during 3-4 days I can do 2000-4000 extra words for other clients/projects. So, why shall I work for them for free? Even if there is no job at that time (other projects), instead I can have a rest which will be much better than sitting at the PC, trying to squeeze those words and where no one will ever say "Thank you"...


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Elisabete Cunha  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 08:37
English to Portuguese
+ ...
No extra charge Dec 18, 2008

I also don't charge an extra rate for this type of assignment. I have worked many times with texts for mobile phones and I had a character limitation which was sometimes almost impossible to comply with. Besides, I also had to follow special rules for dividing some segments/sentences. Of course this is much more time consuming than an ordinary translation. That's why I believe that in these cases, it's better to apply an hourly rate, because sometimes the time we need to squeeze the text takes more time than the translation itself.

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AdamsTransSC  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:37
Spanish to English
+ ...
I wouldn't accept the project in the first place Dec 18, 2008

If there are so many limitations that it's impossible to produce a high-quality and comprehensible translation, I think it's best to turn the project down if you're in a position to do so. This sounds like an issue that should have been sorted out at development stage - if abbreviations are not allowed, the developer should have consulted with target language speakers and provided extra room for the target language texts.

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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:37
English to Dutch
+ ...
Freedom Dec 18, 2008

Freedom to refuse: Noone makes you accept a job. If you don't think it's worth the money, don't accept it.
Freedom to charge: If you do accept it, you can set rates that you find reasonable. The client can refuse to pay that rate, so you lose this job and get another one.

In my experience, many agencies apply higher standard rates to software translations - and the character limitation problem is one of the reasons why. (The other main reason being lack of context.)

So, if you're still free to negotiate, do so.
If the price is already set, but you hadn't been advised upfront about the character limitation, renegotiate on grounds that you weren't provided with essential information.
If you knew about it, and accepted, than bite the bullet and perform the job.

That's basically it, I believe.


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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 09:37
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
It ought to Dec 18, 2008

Hi Marius et all,

whenever there is a strict limitation the whole job becomes a time-consuming activity. I am sure most clients are aware of the problem by now and if not yet they get to hear about it from translators sooner or later

I don't know if the negotiation is still open, Marius, but I'd suggest a compromise: your rate per word plus a rate per hour for the adapting/shortening. Most end clients, at least those of my own, tend not to accept the rate per hour if I do not further define the rate per hour bit, so I propose XXX word per hour at a rate per hour so & so (practically, my proposal is my rate model for a QA).

There are many reasons why an end client has to limit the no of characters & spaces and it happens in all fields... a multilingual publication, a catalogue which ought not to exceed so & so many pages, strings, SAP lists.. whatever. It is sometimes a real challenge to manage to keep quality in those scenarios, especially when you have to fit in a nicely written article describing a complicated matter. Or when you have to abbreviate words in a SAP list while making sure your abbreviation is still meaningful and leaves no room to misinterpretations leading for ex. to the ordering of the wrong goods

It is a time-consuming activity and the extra time invested needs to be compensated. Of course, there are cases where it isn't such a problem and you don't really invest any extra time or nearly no extra time (because the source text happens to be longer than your own translation...) or it is a rare and special request from a client providing me with an interesting volume of work throughout the year. In these cases I do not agree any extra charge, in the latter case only if the involved time isn't that relevant.

Giuliana


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 08:37
English to Polish
+ ...
Not for free Dec 18, 2008

[quote]MariusV wrote:

M. Anna Kańduła wrote:

So, why shall I work for them for free?

I see your point, but in my case - it does not take so much longer to comply to limitation requirement, than a normal translation, and if it does, it's a small % of time, definitelly not 50-100% of time more.

Anni


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:37
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
it IS more Dec 18, 2008

[quote]M. Anna Kańduła wrote:

MariusV wrote:

M. Anna Kańduła wrote:

So, why shall I work for them for free?

I see your point, but in my case - it does not take so much longer to comply to limitation requirement, than a normal translation, and if it does, it's a small % of time, definitelly not 50-100% of time more.

Anni


That length limitation DOES mean 50-100% of time more. Well, was it not 4000 words, but 400 words, for an "old good client" as a "friendly help", let it be. But it is not the case...


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MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:37
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
A really good point Dec 18, 2008

Charlie Bavington wrote:

How reasonable is your client?
I take it your "standard rate" is meant to be the rate that usually applies, and that you have not, as yet, actually agreed anything for this particular job?
(Obviously, if you have... I fear it may be too bad....)

Anyway, assuming negotiations are still open, why not provide the client with a few examples of typical issues, as you have described, with:
i) the Eng source
ii) your usual (Lithuanian?) translation
iii) your proposed 110%-length version

and some idea how long it takes to come up with the ones in iii), and an indication of what proportion of the 'usual' translations you might use in ii) will need to be trimmed to reach the iii) version.

Something quantified and concrete, I feel, is probably the most persuasive tool.

It's the kind of thing that is really hard to get across to someone who has never tried it - I had to try it once with a huge list of industrial classification descriptions, it took over a week - had to make sure the short versions were all unique, of course. When I started, I thought it would take a couple of days at most.....


Well, thanks, seems to be a very reasonable piece of advice. On the basis of it I decided on the following - I simply propose them a price for the job based on the average of the "usual rate" + "the actual work". I think it would be really fair. and if they do not agree or pretend not to understand that, I refuse the job. Because see no interest nor reason to go down.





[Edited at 2008-12-18 11:07 GMT]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 10:37
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Bad luck Dec 18, 2008

Been there myself. Once I lost a good client when I refused to abbreviate a text from 7 to 3 characters, because if had the feeling the software would be unusable (consumer electronics).

Though single entries may take more time than usual on the other hand there tend to be many repetitions in software strings. Usually they can be done very fast once you get the knack of it.

I usually copy the source to Word, reformat to Courier font and use Wordfast for the translation. Fortunately Finnish becomes shorter the longer the source string is, but with three-letter words like 'dry' is is impossible. If they do not even allow to use more space you cannot use proper abbreviation-points. In that instance I at least think only of the money they pay, not what the poor user will think in the end. Because you cannot fight against software engineers. If they decide three letters must be enough there is nothing we can do. If I don't do it someone else will.

Regards
Heinrich


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
Interested in the result Dec 18, 2008

The few times I've had to deal with target length limitations, they were mostly in smaller texts with more of a marketing feel, so they didn't really involve enough "extra effort" that I felt need to be compensated.

But IMHO, it does sound like you'd be taking on quite a bit of extra work by accepting this job, so I think it makes sense to counter-propose a higher rate or hourly surcharge.

Be sure to let us know how it all works out!


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Vitals  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 10:37
Member (2008)
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
Uzjauciu... Dec 18, 2008

I think Giuliana's advice and your decision in this situation are wonderful results of this forum. I know what you mean - shortening Lithuanian software words is sometimes equal to coining a new term... To think of the Lithuanian version of MS Word or Excel menius, one can hardly find a 7-letter word at the shortest in there...

I think the clients should learn at least one verse of "Metai" by Donelaitis or "Anyksciu silelis" by Baranauskas by heart to realize the "weight" of Lithuanian words.

Sekmes!


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