By what percentage is English shorter than French?
Thread poster: Christopher Petch
Christopher Petch
Local time: 01:06
French to English
+ ...
Jan 21, 2003

My translations from French to English contain on average six percent less words than the French original.

What are your averages?


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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:06
French to English
From 10% Jan 21, 2003

Hi Christopher,



Usually my English translations are around 10% shorter. In some extreme cases, it can get to 15% shorter because I really condense what the author is trying to say in a lot of words That\'s the case with the current translation I\'m working on.



HTH,



Erika



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xxxPaulaMac
French to English
+ ...
Percentages Jan 21, 2003

Generally 12% to 15% - depends on format. Lists and bulleted items have much smaller variance. I generally do a machine count and then add the appropriate percentage.

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Arthur Borges
China
Local time: 07:06
English
+ ...
Five to 30%+ Jan 21, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-01-21 10:55, petchy wrote:

My translations from French to English contain on average six percent less words than the French original.

What are your averages?





In one of the forums, a colleague contributed the official UN statistics that found French 11% shorter: this has not been my experience.



Over the last 15 years, I\'ve come to feel 20% is about right; sometimes I have been allowed to perform radical surgery on bad authors and took impish delight in overshooting 30% by a point or two.



That said, I translated one novelist and however much I racked my brains, I couldn\'t cut my wordcount to better than 5% fewer words.



That also said, I once did a contract into French with a sharp young lawyer: our product was 10% shorter. This is the only thing I admire about Napoleon Bonaparte - he locked up a bunch of jurists until they produced a new legal code and French law is the Rolls Royce of Legalese in my language trio.



Lastly, I\'ve turned out the odd sentence that was longer in words and, again rather teed off at myself, peered harder at the output till realised that I had 20% fewer *syllables*.



Anyhow: my personal pet figure is 20%, the UN finds 11 more endearing.

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Gayle Wallimann  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:06
Member (2001)
French to English
+ ...
15% to 20% Jan 21, 2003

French texts just seem to shrink away as we pare down to the nitty gritty meaning

My experience runs along those lines, although it really does depend on how technical the text is that is being translated. Sometimes I have even gone to 30%, like Arthur.


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Nathalie M. Girard, ALHC  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
15% on average usually for me Jan 21, 2003

I manage about 15 to 20%, closer to 15% according to my stats...



HTH

Nathalie


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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:06
English to French
15 - 20% Jan 29, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-01-21 15:50, Arthur wrote:

Over the last 15 years, I\'ve come to feel 20% is about right; sometimes I have been allowed to perform radical surgery on bad authors and took impish delight in overshooting 30% by a point or two.





Depends on the topic matter, and who is writing, but overall, it usually come to that, 15 or 20%.



Just a note for Arthur. What do you mean by \"radical surgery on bad authors\"? I thought you were translating.



For me translating is an activity consisting of relaying exactly the author\'s communication. Not correcting the author, or the author\'s style, no matter how tempting this is, at time.

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