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Poll: What unit do you use mostly to quote jobs?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:57
SITE STAFF
May 18, 2006

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "What unit do you use mostly to quote jobs?".

This poll was originally submitted by Christine Laigo

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A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 09:57
French to Spanish
+ ...
Target words, of course. May 19, 2006

To what you translate is what you charge, of course.
From English to Spanish, that's OK. From Spanish to English, I don't know, but it doesn't seem too good.
Here in Mexico and for me, at least.
220 words per page at XXX pesos per page.


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Gabriela Wolochwianski
Argentina
Local time: 11:57
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
accurate estimate May 19, 2006

I think charging by the source word is a clear way of submitting accurate estimates to clients so that they know what they will pay beforehand. Also, the translation can be less or more wordy according to the translators style or preferences, leading to discussions once the work is done.

I understand some language combinations should charge by the target or line but in most Roman languages I guess source wordcount is the most popular method.

I think the wordcount is just a safe measurable way of charging for our work, cause we never translate word by word so we are not actually "charging" for the translation of each word but rather "weighing" the amount of work it will probably take.

It's easier for the client and for you to have a unit of measurement you can both assess before the job is done.
Charging by the page used to be the method before computers could calculate wordcounts and it's still used over here when estimating legal documents or hard copies.

Cheers!

Gabriela Wolochwianski


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Stephen Rifkind  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 17:57
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Depends on language May 19, 2006

Hebrew and German are very word efficient. Hebrew can put the subject, verb, and object in one word. The difference between Hebrew and English can run up to 40%. THe clients may not like it, but I never take source word in Hebrew, unless it is a standard document like a birth certificate. I assume that there are other "efficient" languages out there also.

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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
Source words, the only fair way to charge May 19, 2006

Using the source word count assures that everyone (client, translator, agency) will know exactly what the job will cost, no surprises, no possibility of "padding" the target text, no "estimates" of target language expansion.

You simply have to know what to charge per source word in order to earn the wage you want to earn.


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:57
German to English
+ ...
"Word" is a chameleon May 19, 2006

... not only because of the differences between languages (20% between English and German, give or take a few per cent).
But also because of the different word lengths and stylistic registers within languages.
Take the two example sentences:

- I like nice short words in quick and easy texts.
- Succinct lexical entities facilitate greater pecuniary leverage.

Which of these sentences is worth more in your invoicing system?
For those who invoice by the word: do you have different word rates for different languages and text types? Or do you have a standard rate for all texts, and just hope that you will get texts with short words (and hide your frustration when you get texts full of long and complicated words and sentences).

For the record: I invoice by the defined line of 55 keystrokes, normally based on target text. Sometimes I vary this (e.g. I have a rate per 1000 keystrokes for a couple of publishers). But I hardly ever charge by the word, and for good reasons.


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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Polish
Source word May 19, 2006

David Russi wrote:

Using the source word count assures that everyone (client, translator, agency) will know exactly what the job will cost, no surprises, no possibility of "padding" the target text, no "estimates" of target language expansion.


Good point.

I have also another point, which is very egoistic, but after all it's my job, not charity
English source text has more words, than Polish translation, and the difference goes in dozens %. Ie. "to wake up" 3 words, translates as "obudzić", 1 word.

Anni


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Francesca Pesce  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
"Standard page" May 19, 2006

In Italy, as far as I know, the standard unit is a page ("cartella") of 25 lines x 60 characters spaces included. So in the end it should be 1500 characters spaces included. And usually it is in the target text.

So estimates are usually calculated on this basis. This is the method I use for Italy and for regular clients (that don't need estimates, but just the final price in the invoice).

For new international clients, I opt for source word, as it is the simplest and clearest way. But this for EN>IT; FR>IT or vice versa. For other languages this system is not at all useful, as other colleagues have underlined already.

[Edited at 2006-05-19 09:27]


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Reed James
Chile
Local time: 10:57
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
I agree May 19, 2006

My sentiments exactly!

David Russi wrote:

Using the source word count assures that everyone (client, translator, agency) will know exactly what the job will cost, no surprises, no possibility of "padding" the target text, no "estimates" of target language expansion.

You simply have to know what to charge per source word in order to earn the wage you want to earn.


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Setti Mulari  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 02:57
Member (2005)
Finnish to English
Good point, well made. May 19, 2006

David Russi wrote:

Using the source word count assures that everyone (client, translator, agency) will know exactly what the job will cost, no surprises, no possibility of "padding" the target text, no "estimates" of target language expansion.

You simply have to know what to charge per source word in order to earn the wage you want to earn.


As a FIEN translator, I always quote in source words and there's a good 20% discrepancy in word counts between the two languages. As an outsourcer, I award no projects to anyone who tries the target-word malarkey with me. It absolutely boils my blood.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 17:57
Turkish to English
+ ...
Turkish is also very "word efficient" May 19, 2006

Stephen Rifkind wrote:

Hebrew and German are very word efficient. Hebrew can put the subject, verb, and object in one word. The difference between Hebrew and English can run up to 40%. THe clients may not like it, but I never take source word in Hebrew, unless it is a standard document like a birth certificate. I assume that there are other "efficient" languages out there also.



Turkish is an agglutinating language that attaches strings of suffixes to the end of words that often correspond to separate words such as articles/prepositions/relative pronouns and auxiliary verbs in English. Take for example 'Kirletenlerini temizlettim.' (2 words in Turkish) meaning 'I had those of them that were made dirty cleaned.' (10 words in English). Ok, it's a slightly surreal example, but I hope it makes the point.
A complex legal text in Turkish can nearly double in word count when translated into English, whereas a simple e-mail may add no more than 10%. So source wordcount is a pretty useless guide as to the amount of work involved in translating a text from English into Turkish. Not that all clients are easily convinced of this!
Actually, I think we all do ourselves a disservice by reducing our work to a commodity that can be measured on a simple numerical scale. I much prefer to ask the client to send me the text, examine how much work is involved and simply quote for the text as a whole. Again, not all clients are convinced that this is the best way of working!


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:57
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
A question to the nine of you who use "characters without spaces" May 19, 2006

Doyouthendeliveryourtranslationalsowithoutspaces?

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M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:57
English to Polish
Characters May 19, 2006

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Doyouthendeliveryourtranslationalsowithoutspaces?

I rather think that means spaces are not counted, not not existing

Besides, not all languages use "words", as Indoeuropean ones. Chinese, Japanese and such may use count per characters. They don't use spaces between characters in writing.


Anni

[Edited at 2006-05-19 16:48]


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:57
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Riccardo... May 19, 2006

Riccardo Schiaffino wrote:

Doyouthendeliveryourtranslationalsowithoutspaces?


did I see that before? kind of rings a bell...

cheers,
Roberta


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:57
English to Spanish
+ ...
It seems to depend on the place... May 19, 2006

Juan Jacob wrote:

To what you translate is what you charge, of course.
From English to Spanish, that's OK. From Spanish to English, I don't know, but it doesn't seem too good.
Here in Mexico and for me, at least.
220 words per page at XXX pesos per page.



It makes more sense to charge according to source language, but:

In Mexico, one charges according to target language! (I confirm this by seeing Juan Jacob's immediate response, and I had never considered charging according to source language untill I saw it in Proz.com). Even publishers pay according to target language.

Maybe it is because most translators here translate into Spanish, so it makes sense because the translation will end up longer... It could also be that you cannot always count the words in the source language (not all translations are in an electronic format!!!), while you will always be able to count the words in your work!


I can tell you how charging has evolved (in my case):

I first started charging by double spaced page (typed, very few computers back then, though I did work on a computer). It was called a "cuartilla", I think it was something like 23 lines with 66 hits per line. And you would explain that generally they should expect that the Spanish would be longer than the English.

From there, I passed to charging by characters (and at first it was complicated finding how to count characters, later on it was easier) Very short period of time, and this was really for a publisher and that is how they paid. (the editor was a translator and was always looking for ways to give a better deal to the translator)

Then, the same publisher started paying by word. (still target language). And I worked for another big French publisher that also paid according to target language. In both cases, the original text was printed material...

So my next step, for general clients, was to charge by page, specifying how many words make a page: people were used to being charged by the page, so I would explain the advantage that using a computer I could deliver the translation in the same format in which they gave me the text, did not have to do it "double space": Between 220 and 250 words to a page. Still explained Spanish would be probably longer than text in English.

Now, by word, in target language... Though I still have to explain to many clients how many words to a page.

Just a clarification:

I do a lot of translating into English. (funny how I never thought of charging according to source language!!!)

So, I solved the problem by charging more per word when I translated into English and by explaining to my clients that I considered the page as fewer words in English. Later, so it would be less complicated, started giving my quote by word in Spanish, specifying the price in each language.

No one has ever complained, everything is negotiated from the start, most of my clients are old and repeat clients, and I translate both into English and Spanish for some of them!!!

(I see how these things could really make some people's blood boil, but it is an agreement between translator and client made beforehand... No surprises!! And if the client asks about the "double standard", after explaining the reason, they agree and have no problem with it.)

And, as there is a smaller supply of translators into English in Mexico, it makes sense to charge more for translations from Spanish to English... (though there are places where a translation into Spanish pays more than a translation into English!)


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