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Poll: What is the average number of words you translate per month?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 06:17
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May 12

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What is the average number of words you translate per month?".

This poll was originally submitted by Gustavo Villalobos. View the poll results »



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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:17
Spanish to English
+ ...
I don't know May 12

And I'm baffled as to why anybody other than me should want to have this information. Surely it's nobody's business except mine, my clients', and the taxman's?

I suppose it boils down to the fact that people can have different ways of doing things. In order to find out the average monthly rate, I would have to work out the total monthly output for several months then divide the total by the number of months. I was never any good at maths and have never really enjoyed things which I'm not good at, so being asked to do a calculation like that seems more like hard, unpaid work than anything else. In fact, administration in general is the part of freelance translation I enjoy least.
As the Spanish say, "soy de letras"...

[Edited at 2017-05-12 08:25 GMT]

PS: I do understand that some of our colleagues may plan everything they do painstakingly, and keep detailed records of everything they do and so will be able to provide the answer to this type of query instantly. However, I'm afraid I'm not one of that happy band.

[Edited at 2017-05-12 08:30 GMT]


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:17
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
More than 40,000; less than 60,000 May 12

For the last few years I've been working non-stop. I do mostly large jobs and I aim for 2,000 a day, long-term, but in reality I rarely hit 60,000. Sometimes I have too many other things I have to do in the day, and sometimes I'm just plain too tired.

I also do editing from time to time (editing of original English; I don't do "proofreading"), and of course that goes faster. But it's not as much fun; I always worry if I've made the right decisions. English-language authors don't like to see their words changed (i.e., be edited), but authors writing in another language love to see their work appear in English (i.e., get translated).

[Edited at 2017-05-12 09:05 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 14:17
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I didn't know May 12

Since 2005 I’ve been keeping track of the number of words translated per year because I was asked then and I had no idea, but I’ve never worked out my average per month. Just out of curiosity, I've figure out that my average last year was 50,536 (it will be largely exceeded this year if things keep going as well as until now)...

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Really? May 12

neilmac wrote:

PS: I do understand that some of our colleagues may plan everything they do painstakingly, and keep detailed records of everything they do and so will be able to provide the answer to this type of query instantly. However, I'm afraid I'm not one of that happy band.


But you must know how many words you normally do per day/week in order to accept or reject jobs. From there even my mother could get to a monthly figure...

And you must have at least a vague idea of your monthly earnings to keep on top of your bills. Times by 10 and you have a rough monthly word count.

Failing that, you must have some kind of gut feeling about how much work you do.

I reckon you're just trying to claim today's Mr Grumpy prize. I suppose it is Friday.



PS These three methods take me to 40,000, 45,000 and 50,000 words. The true figure is presumably somewhere in that range, but I don't keep a tally of words translated; I'm only interested in the money.


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
depends May 12

I work as an interpreter, and only then as a translators, so the writing/typing varies badly--from under 10k words to over 75k.

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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:17
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
I don't know May 12

Maybe because I'm too busy translating to bother with any word counts.

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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Neilmac is on to something (and Thayenga too) May 12

Other than a leisurely attempt at curiosity as to what other translators are doing with their time (a form of professional gossip?), I see no profit in answering this question.

What business is it of anyone outside my home office, indeed? Are our conversations being reduced to slogans, eye-candy infographics, one-sentence analyses and copycat pronouncements (such as “follow your dreams”)?

Are we devolving as a species, not to mention as a class of professionals?

Different people do the same thing differently. Although I agree with Chris that one needs to have a tangible idea of how much one makes, how many billable words or hours one works day in and day out, that's nobody else's business but mine (or yours). Why the idle curiosity? (Not that I'm all that surprised).


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Peter Shortall  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:17
Member
French to English
+ ...
Some people are amazingly busy May 12

Although some people don't find this topic interesting, I do. I have kept a record of the number of words I translate per month since I started over 10 years ago, and my volumes have increased over time to the point where I've been translating upwards of 90,000 words per month over the past year on average. Let's just say that I don't have much time for anything but work these days!

And because I know how time-consuming that is, I can only say hats off to the few of us (3 or 4 by my reckoning) who say they can sustain an average output of 150,000 or more words per month. I beat that figure once, but I never want to work that hard again!

What this poll doesn't take into account is numbers of repetitions, so we're not necessarily comparing like with like here, and I feel that should be borne in mind as some people translate a lot of them, and some people don't. And then, of course, there's the fact that some languages are more "wordy" than others. There are also other factors such as numbers, non-breaking spaces in French, etc. so I'm not sure the comparisons are very meaningful.

[Edited at 2017-05-12 11:13 GMT]


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:17
German to English
Slowpoke May 12

I think it's a perfectly reasonable question and it seems more relevant than the kinds of figures you see thrown around by Common Sense Advisory [sic!] and elsewhere, where people multiply an average number of words per hour by 8 to calculate words per day or by 160 (or 200 or 240) to get the number of words per month.

If someone felt the need to use some kind of average translation volume to figure out how much to charge, then I think their personal number of words per month would be a much more useful figure than most alternatives. It also seems sensible to place this in the context of other translators' averages.



And for the idly curious: I don't keep track of these figures, but I do know how much I earn per year. Even if I didn't ever do any editing (that is, if I earned all my money by translating) and even if I always earned my lowest rates, 25,000 words per month would already push me well beyond my annual total sales (before expenses). So, I don't know how many words I actually average, but it is certainly less than 25,000.

If I ever average 90,000 words per month some year, I solemnly swear to take the next five years off to enjoy temporary early retirement.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 22:17
Japanese to English
I have absolutely no idea May 12

Because I deal in 'source characters' not 'number of words'?

Out of interest, how many words on English would you think something of the following volume would be once translated?

『ヨハネの手紙三』は新約聖書の正典を構成する27文書の一つで、公同書簡に分類される3通のヨハネ書簡の最後のものである。便宜上は公同書簡に分類されるとはいえ、「長老」と名乗る著者がガイオという個人に宛てた本文からは、この手紙が完全に個人的な手紙であることが読み取れる。「長老」は、地域内の信徒の家で営まれた小規模な「家の教会」を巡回して福音を説いていた「兄弟たち」の歓待や支援をしているガイオを賞賛し、彼に対し、ある「家の教会」を取り仕切って「兄弟たち」を拒絶しているディオトレフェスには従わず、引き続き善を行うようにと激励している。

Depending on how you translate (i.e. how wordy or word-thrifty you are) and the content you are translating, the above could be close on 0.75 pages (@200 words per page) or fluctuate +/- 30% either way.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:17
English to Spanish
+ ...
Nicholas Carr May 12

Has anyone heard about journalist Nicholas Carr? I have, and I am reading one of his books, which deals with how Internet technologies are changing the way we read and write, and not for the better. Feel free to read this article on The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/

Maybe some of my colleagues like to work faster and earn more money, delving into details such as repetitions, fuzzy matches and the like. To me, they're starting to sound like machines or software makers, not translators.

Text is not some assembly of character strings to code or decode. You keep churning out thousands of words and measure your proficiency by that yardstick. I prefer to write translations.


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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:17
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Averages May 12

I have a spreadsheet that counts the translated words every month, separates them by area, and gives me several statistiscs. My average of the past 12 months is currently 98K. But this count considers all repetitions, fuzzies, etc. I don't have statistics that would consider only new words, so this count is a bit exaggerated.

[Edited at 2017-05-12 20:11 GMT]


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 15:17
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Define "words" May 13

In light of what some CAT users have mentioned, perhaps the question should be "How may billable words do you translate a month.

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Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 10:17
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Billable May 13

Andy Watkinson wrote:

In light of what some CAT users have mentioned, perhaps the question should be "How may billable words do you translate a month.


Repetitions and fuzzies are also billable, only the rate is a bit lower. So this wouldn't really solve the issue.


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