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Poll: Do you ever charge by the character?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 08:46
Oct 4, 2005

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you ever charge by the character?".

This poll was originally submitted by María Eugenia Wachtendorff

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Csaba Ban  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
depends on the country Oct 4, 2005

In certain countries translated texts are counted by the character. I know at least one such country, i.e. my own (Hungary). In Hungary, most translations are paid by the number of characters in the target language. Now there are few agencies that are more open to the international market, and such agencies tend to pay by the number of words in the source text.


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
In Italy, 1 cartella = 1500 characters Oct 4, 2005

In Italy, translation fee is often according to number of "cartelle", where 1 cartella = 1500 characters spaces included
But then there are also cartelle of 1500 characters spaces excluded, and cartelle of 1800 characters, or 2000... Usually based on source text, but it's always best to ask... So making it crystal clear what is intended by a cartella at the onset is a must!

A Belgian client counted lines, which he defined as consisting of 55 characters or 10 words...

It's useful to familiarise with the various equivalents, so as to easily relate to whatever basis we are used to in terms of working out overall fee and time requirements.


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Lorenia Rincon  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:46
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
by the character... in Mexico Oct 4, 2005

Just like in Italy in Mexico we usually charge by "cuartilla" = 1500 characters in the target language.

I charge all my clients outside of Mexico by word in source language since I entered Proz. I think it is better for both the client and myself, because when I charge by "cuartilla" I charge full "cuartillas", therefore the client usually pays a bit more that the words actually translated.

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Magda Dziadosz  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:46
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
by 1600-1800 characters in Poland Oct 4, 2005

same here. Typically prices are expressed by xx per 'page', page being 1600 or 1800 characters.

I have a problem, though, in replying to the poll: I don't charge "per character", meaning per 1 character, but character count is a method of charging 'per page'.


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Local time: 17:46
English to German
+ ...
not exactly by character count Oct 4, 2005

but strokes. In germany it is a standard to quote 55 strokes per line including spaces and symbols. Best Brandis

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Mariana Moreira
Local time: 16:46
Member (2004)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Portugal Oct 4, 2005

In Portugal I always charge my clients per line, being a line either 55 or 60 characters. For clients in some other countries I do also apply the 55 characters line rule (e.g. Germany, Switzerland)

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:46
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
No, but it could be a good idea Oct 5, 2005

In translating from Russian to English, the Russian word count is only about 70% of the English one (due to compound words, no definite or indefinite articles, case endings instead of prepositions in some cases, etc.) but the character count is very similar. So it could be a useful way of avoiding having to explain to clients why my word count is so much higher than theirs, assuming I am being paid on target language word count.

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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Maybe think in terms of % of expansion and contraction. Oct 6, 2005

There are pros and cons for any counting sysltem. Character count would certainly be more fair for agglutinative languages like German and Hungarian.

For me, what's important is finding a way to reflect how much thought went into a translation. If the source language is agglutinative, every prefix and suffix reflects a thought process, so character count helps to show this.

At the other extreme, I have done a lot of work with the disease paracoccidiodomycosis. Should I get credit for every character every time I repeat the word? I don't think so.

Maybe some genius could figure out average percentages of expansion and contraction between different language pairs.

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Poll: Do you ever charge by the character?

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