How to count source words in an Asian text (into ENG)
Thread poster: Geraldine L
Mar 13, 2012


I'm working as a project manager and have to manage the translation of one document from Chinese and one document from Japanese, both into English. I usually work the other way around (with English as a source language) and I'm in doubt here, besides, I'm not really familiar with Asian languages. I'm used to working with Trados and would base my budget on the Trados log, but I get really different results...

The JA document is approx. 2 times as big as the CN one, so I would expect it to be 2 times more expensive. But I get incredible figures with the Trados log. It shows 330 "words" for the CN document and 7144 "words" for the JA document. Obviously, it's counting "words" for CN and characters for JA.

1. ==> Have you had troubles with Trados counting source words in a text with Chinese as a source language? Would you rather count characters? What is according to you a fair rate to translate CN signs/characters into English?
2. ==> What is according to you a fair rate to translate JA signs/characters into English?

Thank you!



MM^^  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:39
Chinese to French
+ ...
Price per caracter Mar 13, 2012


Normally it is a price per caracter (for chinese). In chinese, a lot of words combine two-tree caracters but it is not possible to account automatically the words in a chinese text because of the same caracter is used in many combinaisons doing different words. On the other hand, in chinese grammatical words are less in number than in another languages. Chinese have more words for a concrete object than fonction words for the same sentence, I believe. Japanese combines alphabetic caracters (from two alphabets) and chinese caracters. It is more words in japanese for the same sentence because of the grammar structure of japanese. A chinese text condences a big volume of informations in a small volume of words and therefore the translation of this text becomes something bigger.

I believe that a price based on chinese caracters count is fair. I work in the pair chinese-french french-chinese and it is what I do.


Wouter van Kampen
Local time: 16:39
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
per line or per page Mar 14, 2012

Just charge per line or per page.
Or charge on the basis of the number of words in the target text.


Matthew Olson
Local time: 18:39
Japanese to English
Japanese > English is charged per character Mar 14, 2012

As the title suggests. Japanese, when translated into English (or any other language, for that matter), is usually charged per source character because, outside of particles, it's impossible to tell without reading the text where one "word" begins and another ends. Individual translators may have their own policies on how to charge, but as far as cold quoting the price for a text goes, charging per source character is the norm. The standard formula for estimating how many English words will come out of a given Japanese source text is to divide the total number of Japanese characters by 2.5. Of course, depending on the translator and the text itself, the actual number of English words you get might be more or less, but this formula can be used to make a rough estimate.


DanielChen  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:39
English to Chinese
+ ...
ask a price based on 1000 Chinese characters Mar 15, 2012

Generally, you can ask your client a price based on 1000 characters in translating a Chinese document into English.


Geraldine L
Thank yoy for your help!! Mar 21, 2012

Hello Everyone,

Your replies have been helpful! Thank you very much!!

Kind regards,


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How to count source words in an Asian text (into ENG)

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