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Charging by Characters
Thread poster: Harry Hermawan

Harry Hermawan  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 10:19
Member (2005)
English to Indonesian
Jun 29, 2006

Hi everyone,

in Jakarta Indonesia, the norm for translation is per page, here in proz it is often stated by words.

But, I have not come across or notice any that go by 'characters'.

Can anyone give insight into this?

Thanks


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Ingrid Lovric
Local time: 05:19
English to Croatian
+ ...
Number of characters... Jun 29, 2006

Hi Harry,

In Croatia the standard way of charging is per page, as well. But you can do your own calculation of the rate per character since the standard number of characters (spaces included) is 1800 per page.

So, if you charge, for example, 30 Euro per page, your rate per character would be 30 Euro/1800 = 0.016 Euro/character.

I must say I have never heard anyone charging per character, but anything is possible in the business world!

Hope this helped!

Best regards,
Ingrid


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:19
English to French
+ ...
Western Europe Jun 29, 2006

I have seen some jobs over several years, but they ARE scarce. The standard is always by the word.

The places that I noticed use per character rates are in Western Europe - dunno why. In fact, to me, it looks like per character rates are pretty much a German specialty.

Then, there is also the question of characters including spaces and characters not including spaces - as in "do you charge for pressing the spacebar?".

I am sure that in any case, eventually, per character rates will disappear. Just try to convert a per character job into a per word job to have an idea of how much work it would be - it's not easy, and I bet many people refuse these jobs because they simply don't suit their logic.

All the best!

[Edited at 2006-06-29 08:57]


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Ingrid Lovric
Local time: 05:19
English to Croatian
+ ...
German language.. Jun 29, 2006

Hi Viktoria,

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

The places that I noticed use per character rates are in Western Europe - dunno why. In fact, to me, it looks like per character rates are pretty much a German specialty.




I believe the reason why in Germany they like to charge per character is because they have such long words with oh so many characters. So if they would charge per word, I am sure they would earn significantly less than charging per character. Still, I think their most common practice is charging per line.

Best regards,
Ingrid


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Agnieszka Zmuda  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 05:19
Member (2005)
English to Polish
Polish specialty Jun 29, 2006

Hi, everyone,

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:
In fact, to me, it looks like per character rates are pretty much a German specialty.


I don't know much about what's customary in Germany but for sure charging per page is a Polish specialty. This usually means 1800 chars with spaces but there are agencies who understand a page as 1800 chars w/o spaces or as 1600 chars - usually with spaces. On the other hand, charging per word or per line is still very rare here. As to the average length of a word in Polish, I think that it is mid-way between English and German.

Agnieszka


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:19
Italian to English
It depends on the customer Jun 29, 2006

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

I am sure that in any case, eventually, per character rates will disappear. Just try to convert a per character job into a per word job to have an idea of how much work it would be - it's not easy, and I bet many people refuse these jobs because they simply don't suit their logic.



How you actually quote for jobs will depend on the calculation method your customer is happy with.

My English-speaking customers tend to prefer a "per word" rate; those in Germany and Switzerland seem to like "per line", as Ingrid says, but disagree as to whether the line should contain 60, 55, 50 or whatever number of keystrokes; here in Italy, a "per page" rate is the norm, although the number of keystrokes varies from 1250 for a legal page to 2000 for some - but not all - publishers (a page of technical translation is generally 1500 keystrokes).

The crucial thing is to get written confirmation of the rate for the job in language the customer feels comfortable with before you start translating.

Keystroke counts are a better guide to text length across languages than word counts so I wouldn't expect word counting to become a global standard any time soon.

Cheers,

Giles


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diana bb  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 06:19
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
A usual practice in Lithuania Jun 29, 2006

Charging per characters is a usual practice in Lithuania.
Actually, it is the rate per page consisting of a certain number of characters. Several years ago the norm was 1800 characters per page, yet recently the page has somewhat 'shrunk', and at present you can come across a page of 1700 or even 1650 characters. The translator's interest in such a situation is negotiating for a rate per page that has less than 1800 characters and with spaces.

I somehow don't think that charging per characters should or will disappear, because there are languages where charging per word is ... well... a bit unfair. When I look at some veeeery long German words, I find charging per characters quite acceptable and sensible.

Regards,

Diana


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HarryHedgehog
Germany
Local time: 05:19
German to English
Three rods to the hog's head* Jun 29, 2006

It doesn't really matter which measures you use, as long as everyone agrees on the equivalents. As mentioned above, Germans tend to quote by the character or by the line (all my customers count a line as 55 characters including spaces). The one customer I have who uses "standard" pages counts them as 30 lines, or 1650 characters.

There are a couple of other aspects as well, for instance, whether the bill is based on the source or target text. This is usually a matter of negotiation.

In my humble (yet professional) opinion, it's best to see a text in its entirety before you quote on it anyway, so you have an idea of the subject matter and the level of difficulty. Once you have it, you can easily submit a fixed-price quotation based on whatever system you use.

Hope this helps.
HH

*The title is a beloved quote from the Simpsons - specifically Abe Simpson - in response to a discussion of the benefits of the metric system. Abe replied "My car gets three rods to the hog's head, and that's the way I like it"


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 23:19
English to French
+ ...
It all comes down to the same in the end Jun 30, 2006

Even if there are reasons to charge per character for some languages, I think that this standard could very rapidly be replaced by the more popular per word scheme.

I understand German words are longer and therefore should be better paid, but that's why even per word rates vary depending on language pairs.

I am not suggesting that per character rates should be replaced with per word rates - especially since many people have been very comfortable using them. But nowadays, boundaries between countries are an endangered species when it comes to working as a freelancer, and many people would welcome a universal, simplified rate scheme with open arms. I think this will eventually take over - and to those who are not enchanted by the idea, I hope it will not happen before you retire


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Henrik Pipoyan  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
Member (2004)
English to Armenian
Per-character rate has one advantage Jun 30, 2006

Per-character rate has one advantage: it helps distinguish between simple and complicated texts. This is not a universal truth, but usually if we compare different styles in the same language, we'll see that the styles, which use longer words and extensive punctuation, are more complicated and require more efforts. Per-word rate does not reflect this, but per-character (or per-page rate) does. So it allows you to quote a more accurate rate for the work you are going to do. This may not always be true and probably not for all languages, but in some cases it is really helpful.

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