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Thread poster: Reed D James
Best way to express numbers on accounting documents

Reed D James
Chile
Local time: 09:17
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
Apr 2, 2009

Hi. I was wondering what the best way was to express numbers in accounting documents. I am currently working on a Spanish one where it says (expressed in thousands of Euros). If the numeral figures are in the thousands themselves (e.g. 2,542), then the U.S. and British reader is supposed to calculate billions of Euros in his or her head. Is this awkward? Is there a standard way of expressing numbers I should be following other than what is provided in Spanish? Thanks a lot for your help in advance.

Reed


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RichardDeegan
Local time: 07:17
Spanish to English
Two different things involved Apr 2, 2009

There may usually be two different conepts involved in this type of material.
First is a heading, such as in a financial statement or a note thereto. If the caption of a table indicates "en miles de", this is "in thousands of", and the user of the statements will know that it applies to the entire table/column/ whatever. Thus 2,547 in the table would be unchanged, and understood even by AIG executes as 2.547 million.
However, it is very common in Spanish to mix digits and "miles" or "en miles" in text, such as "La producción es de 2.457 miles de toneladas." In this case, I convert the "miles" text into ,000, giving me "2,457,000 tons".
Crystal?


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Stick with what is in the original Apr 2, 2009

I disagree. You never want to change or convert numbers in accounting or other financial texts. The numbers are expressed that way for a reason. Essentially the only thing I change from the German is commas to periods or vice versa.

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Kitty Maerz  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:17
English to German
+ ...
Keep it as is Apr 2, 2009

First, let me say that I do not translate from/into Spanish. Therefore, I am not familiar with any translation practices specific to that language.

However, I do have an accounting background and would tend to agree with Daina. Stick with the original. Presumably, there is a reason why the figures are expressed in thousands. In tables/columns etc. the reason is most likely to save space. In normal text, using thousands makes it easier to read and the informational content is still sufficient.

Also, changing the number by adding in the zeros might lead a reader to think that this is the actual, exact number. How, for example, is the reader to know that the real number is say 25,499 if you write "25,000"? If you stick with the original "25 (expressed in thousands of Euros)" it will be clear that the number may be anything from 24,501 to 25,499.


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John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:17
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I would change the style Apr 3, 2009

I would be inclined to change the representation of the numbers into something more commonly English in style. Most English-language readers would find '2,542 thousand euros' rather awkward. In this case, I would put €2,542,000.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
See Kitty's last paragraph Apr 3, 2009

Maybe you could change number style in something less formal, but certainly not in accounting documents. At the very least, check with your customer about it.

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Reed D James
Chile
Local time: 09:17
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
I followed your advice, Kitty Apr 4, 2009


Kitty Maerz wrote:

First, let me say that I do not translate from/into Spanish. Therefore, I am not familiar with any translation practices specific to that language.

However, I do have an accounting background and would tend to agree with Daina. Stick with the original. Presumably, there is a reason why the figures are expressed in thousands. In tables/columns etc. the reason is most likely to save space. In normal text, using thousands makes it easier to read and the informational content is still sufficient.

Also, changing the number by adding in the zeros might lead a reader to think that this is the actual, exact number. How, for example, is the reader to know that the real number is say 25,499 if you write "25,000"? If you stick with the original "25 (expressed in thousands of Euros)" it will be clear that the number may be anything from 24,501 to 25,499.


Since the "thousands of Euros" was a general heading and not part of each individual figure, I decided to leave the numbers as is. However, I generally replace millions with billions when Spanish documents say "in millions of Euros".

Thank you all for your input.


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Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:17
English to Latvian
+ ...
cultural adaptation is ok if necessary Apr 5, 2009

If an accounting report in Indian English contains lakhs and crores you will surely want to translate them to culturally more appropriate units unless your language also uses lakhs and crores on daily basis. I don't see the problem in adapting numbers even in EN>ES translations if it is really appropriate and a translator knows what he is doing.

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Adaptation is not OK in accounting Apr 6, 2009

I still disagree. In the 12 years I have been doing financial translation, I have always been told not to adapt numbers in financial, particularly accounting, texts.

[Edited at 2009-04-06 03:48 GMT]


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Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:17
English to Latvian
+ ...
Spanish mil millones is an unusual feature Apr 6, 2009

I cannot imagine a case when I would need to adapt numbers in EN-LV translations but how would you deal with the above mentioned lakhs and crores? If the text said 52.4 lakhs (52,40,000 – notice grouping of 2 digits) it would be confusing for a US reader to see it as 52.4 hundred thousand even if listed in the table. In many cases it would be appropriate to change this to 5.24 million which contains the same number of significant figures so there is no ambiguity with precision.

If EN "billion" becomes ES "mil millones", I can see the point for reverse adaptation as well. Well, it may not always be necessary but in principle it is acceptable. As far as I know such conversion is unusual for any other Western language so no wonder that some may find it strange but in essence it is not different than changing from lakhs and crores etc.

[Edited at 2009-04-06 08:58 GMT]


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Best way to express numbers on accounting documents







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