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Word count without articles and prepositions. A new fashion?
Thread poster: Mario Cerutti

Mario Cerutti  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:47
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
Mar 14, 2005

I don't know whether this is just a coincidence, but I've been asked by some potential foreign clients recently to provide quotations without taking into account articles and prepositions for, according to them, these do not take up time when translating.

I replied that I would only use a full word count, if nothing else because it would take just too long to delete those articles and prepositions before doing the actual count.

Is this perhaps a new kind of fashion that is taking route in the western world? What do the other translatos think about this?

Thank you

Mario Cerutti


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:47
Member (2004)
English to Italian
old trick Mar 14, 2005

just tell them that you will deliver the translation without articles and propositions, since you are not paid to translate them....

Giovanni


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Hynek Palatin  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 01:47
Member (2003)
English to Czech
+ ...
Funny Mar 14, 2005

You could suggest to return the translation without articles and prepositions.

And what about proper names? They also don't have to be translated!

P.S. I can see that Giovanni had the same idea at the same time. Actually, somebody in another thread mentioned a client who didn't want to pay for spaces (when charging by characters). The translator suggested the same - remove spaces from the translation.

[Edited at 2005-03-14 08:43]


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:47
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Never encountered t his before. Mar 14, 2005

Mario,

I have never encountered this before; the things the clients think about to save a buck.

I do like you; I only do the whole Word count including the (according to them) pesky articles and prepositions. It would otherwise take too long.

How would they like it if you handed in the translation without prepositions and articles?

Chao,
Lucinda


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:47
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
ridiculous!! Mar 14, 2005

Next thing you know they'll ask you not to count adjectives or adverbs. After all, what do they add to the substance of the text?

Try turning my last sentence into a translation without prepositions or articles:
"all, what do they add substance text?"

Tell the customer to figure out what goes where!
Catherine


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Mario Cerutti  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 08:47
Italian to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Word count without articles/prepositions Mar 14, 2005

It goes without saying that my reply to these customers is like the one suggested here by fellow translators, and I appreciate that all are taking up a firm stance on this new "idea".

However I am just trying to find out whether this is a new kind of request that is taking route among customers, or it is just confined to a negligible number of cases we should not be worried about. In other words, how many of you have been receiving the same request? I am intrigued by the fact that customer can get to this peculiar idea? (They were private customers in my case, not agencies); might it be possible that, given this time of tough competition, are the very service providers like ourselves to offer this new type of economical incentive to attract new customers?

Kind regards

Mario Cerutti


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 02:47
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
This is normal practice... Mar 14, 2005

when translating into Finnish. Als the Finnish language does not have articles and only a few preposition and postpositions. So there are always 40 percent less words in a Finnish text than in English or German. But usually we do not get paid on word count basis but on character count.

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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 02:47
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
True about Finnish word count Mar 14, 2005

but character count between English an Finnish doesn't differ significantly. As we always count source words, we just use quite another price when translation is from Finnish into English.

Uldis

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

when translating into Finnish. Als the Finnish language does not have articles and only a few preposition and postpositions. So there are always 40 percent less words in a Finnish text than in English or German. But usually we do not get paid on word count basis but on character count.


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 18:47
German to English
Never heard of this Mar 14, 2005

That's unbelievable! I think you're right - tell them it's not possible - or, as many others have suggested - seriously suggest that you leave all the articles in the source language, or even leave them out altogether! I can't believe the way some people are trying to cut corners - we shouldn't let them get away with things like that.

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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 01:47
Spanish to English
+ ...
I've never been asked to do this Mar 14, 2005

I've never had a similar request, and don't think it's a new trend, just someone trying to be clever and pinch a few pennies. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained! I would just tell them I don't translate piecemeal and I charge based on ALL the words.

Wonder if they've ever heard of phrasal verbs? Ah, those insignificant prepositions!


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Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 20:47
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Educate the client... Mar 14, 2005

Let's give the client the benefit of doubt and assume they really know next to nothing about translation (or they heard it was common practice in Finnish and hence believe it applies to all language pairs).

Simply explain that yes, they are "right"; some words require more effort than others, that's why a total word count is used as an indicator of the time invested in a translation. Explain that you could charge by character, line, page, kilobyte or whatever, but in the end you are just giving a per hour price. What makes soource word/character count the usual standard is that it provides a common ground (anyone can count words in a document), and translators pretty much know their speed in these units.

Reducing the word count by any criteria (articles, prepositions, common terms, repeated words... ahem, the latter belong to another discussion) is simply asking for a reduction in your price per hour. Plus, to implement this new word count is a whole other story (who would do the macro?).

If, after politely explaining this, they continue to insist, then they are truly nothing more that common penny-pinchers and you'd better stay clear of them (this is the kind of people you have to chase afterwards to collect payment!).

I've never been asked to reduce a word count on these grounds, but I've been asked to offer discounts for texts containing "common vocabulary" (?) and once on a highly technical text because since it was on my main expertise area "it should be easier for you, which means you'll go faster". Right on!



[Edited at 2005-03-14 11:51]


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annaba
Local time: 01:47
English to Italian
+ ...
Your translation Without articles Mar 14, 2005

Yes, that's what you should do in order to be as correct as the client


Hynek Palatin wrote:

You could suggest to return the translation without articles and prepositions.

And what about proper names? They also don't have to be translated!

P.S. I can see that Giovanni had the same idea at the same time. Actually, somebody in another thread mentioned a client who didn't want to pay for spaces (when charging by characters). The translator suggested the same - remove spaces from the translation.

[Edited at 2005-03-14 08:43]



Well l yes, it's an old trick to pay less.
You can calculate the difference and let the client pay a higher line-price.
So you are quits!


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Kevin Kelly  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:47
Member (2005)
Russian to English
+ ...
Here's another suggestion for penny-pinching potential clients. Mar 14, 2005

Here's how our ever thrifty outsourcer can save even more: refuse to pay for letters in English or French that are written but not pronounced, for example, the 'gh' in 'right.' After all, it doesn't take any effort to translate them, why should the poor client have to pay. That should cut the cost by 20-30% easily.

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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:47
German to English
+ ...
Translators are too blame Mar 15, 2005

This is all very amusing, but translators themselves are largely to blame, by weighing their work out in words. Why blame customers for wanting to pay less? It's only natural.

The solution is to quote a fee for the whole text.

Marc


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