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Looking for text volume resource
Thread poster: mlconnections

United States
Local time: 16:20
English to Spanish
+ ...
May 9, 2007

Does anyone know of a resource that provides the approximate percentage of expansion or contraction of total word volume between English and other languages? Spanish has approx. 25% greater volume, Russian 10-15% more, Arabic 10-20% less...

It would be great to have a chart with this type of information for various languages.

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Tony M  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:20
French to English
+ ...
Nice idea, but... May 9, 2007

In theory, it's a great idea, and I did even once have a client who always worked from paper originals (and hence, no source word count) who tried to hold me to her idea of what the ratio should be!

However, at various times in my 12 years translating, I have tried doing retrospective analyses, and the results have not been encouraging!

IN FR > EN, I have had anything from 16% less to 5% more — the kind of statistical spread I would not like to have to use to base my charges on!

I just found it depended so much on the style and register of the documents, as well as the field they were in, and so many other factors to boot. In particular, I found things like parts lists often yielded the same or even slightly higher word counts — makes sense really, inasmuch as, if most lines only have a single word on them, you aren't going to be able to gain many there, are you?

I did have one client once who wanted to produce a bi-lingual publication with 3 columns per page: 2 for FR and 1 for EN. This meant that I had to achieve a compression ratio of 50% — actually surprisingly difficult to achieve, but luckily I was given the discretion to edit and leave out anything I wanted to! Luckily too, they still paid me on the basis of the source word count!

[Edited at 2007-05-09 20:11]

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