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Estimated words per minute of speech
Thread poster: xxxPoveyTrans
xxxPoveyTrans

Local time: 01:45
German to English
Sep 27, 2007

Dear All

I have been asked to do some transcription and then translation of a series of interviews conducted in various languages. To assist in putting together a proposal for the overall project, I would like to know if anyone could guestimate how many words an 'average' (if such a thing exists!) 20 minute interview may comprise, assuming average speed, length of pauses etc. The interviews are between two people only.

Any 'ball park figures' would be appreciated - perhaps you do a lot of transcription or maybe you quote for such work using an average estimate of words per minute.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Best regards

Simon


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
English to Arabic
+ ...
Can't help with the number of words... Sep 27, 2007

but from my previous experience with transcription work I know that, on average, it takes 1 hour to transcribe 15 minutes of tape (I read that somewhere and it's also close to my experience). So what I usually do is quote per hour of transcription (15 minutes = charge for 1 hour).

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:45
English to Arabic
+ ...
Reference (to what I wrote above) Sep 27, 2007

"How long does it take to transcribe a one-hour long recording?

There is no definite answer to this. Transcription industry standards dictate that 10 to 15 minutes of speech takes one hour to type and therefore a 60 minute recording should take somewhere between 4 and 6 hours to transcribe, based on a good quality recording without any hindering factors."

http://es-transcription.co.uk/faqs.htm


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jokerman
Germany
Local time: 02:45
English to German
+ ...
a guesstimate... Sep 27, 2007

Hi Simon,

I just took a look at few (to be exact: three) of numerous interview transcriptions/translations I did in the past, and the average amount of words in a 20 minute conversation seem to be about 2100. Of course, due to the extremely small sample, this figure might not be representative really.

However, when estimating the price for a transcription/translation of a conversation, I usually assume that I'll need 1 hour for 10 minutes of audio recording - and that is only for translating the interview, not for transcribing first and then translating it... and that afterwards usually proves to be quite a realistic guess.

Hope that helps.

igor



[Bearbeitet am 2007-09-27 18:51]


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xxxPoveyTrans

Local time: 01:45
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Sep 27, 2007

Thanks Nesrin.

This is useful information. I appreciate that this question is inviting the response 'how long is a piece of string!'. However, I would be interested in knowing how words twenty minutes of recorded material would produce e.g.
a twenty minute recording would be around 5,000 - 7,000 of written text in English on average (the source languages are Russian, Spanish, Danish and Turkish which also impacts the number of words).

Any ideas?


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:45
English to Spanish
+ ...
Unknowns, be Careful Sep 27, 2007

"How long is a piece of string" is a good way to describe it. I would recommend that you not commit yourself to anything until hearing samples, and even then that you protect yourself against unknown problems.

One of the most serious problems can be deficient sound recordings from hell that can take forever to transcribe and only then with serious gaps and inaccuracies. I would also recommend the use of experienced transcribers in the languages involved and not you. Your time is worth more than that of a transcriber, yet your skills may be much less in that area. Moreover, unless you have very sharp hearing you are liable to have big difficulties.

A client may pressure you to give a firm commitment based on a "pig in a poke". Resist it; if you give in you may live to regret it.


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xxxPoveyTrans

Local time: 01:45
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to Henry and Igor Sep 27, 2007

Fortunately the words are estimates only and I will not be held to them at all. As for the transcribing, I have agreeement from the client to, as you recommend, outsource this part to native speakers of the respective languages.

I did an experiment of reading text out aloud for five minutes at a slightly below average pace to take into account pauses and the changing pace of natural speech and arrived at a guestimate of around 3,000 words.

But there again, the interviewees are addicted gamblers so who knows how their addition may impact their speech..!


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 20:45
English to French
+ ...
160 words per minute Sep 28, 2007

Nuance, maker of Dragon Naturally Speaking, says we pronounce 160 words per minute on average. This would mean that for a person who types at around 40 wpm, one hour of quality audio should take about four hours to transcribe.

I do type at around 40 wpm and from my experience, it does take me around four times as much time to transcribe audio than it would take to just listen to it. To be on the safe side, I always multiply the length of the audio by six when I quote a deadline - you never know, someone might be speaking with a strange accent at some point, or there may be noise making the speech inaudible or unintelligible.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 02:45
French to Dutch
+ ...
Conferences: 120 words per minute Oct 1, 2007

I did lots of conference transcriptions. One hour of conferences takes about 7 hours of typing (and some research about names, etc.) and gives 28 pages of 250 words, that is about 120 words per minute. These are all averages, there are lots of unknowns as Henry says. Ask for a programme or a list of names of all the participants. By the way, transcription is always charged by the hour, about the same as your hourly translation rate.

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