Word count in documents with very long chemical formulae
Thread poster: Hege Jakobsen Lepri

Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:59
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Aug 18, 2014

I just finished a long chemical patent translation, and while it is not the first job I do of this kind, the specific document had some incredibly long formulae that made me aware for the first time that all these multi-membered components joined by hyphens were counted (both in Memoq and in Wordfast) as one word. Thus, the last 8 pages on the document contained 21000 characters, but were counted only as 188 words. Possibly the worst paid 4 hours of my career, since the PO was based on source word count, not standard page or line.

I have notified the client, and I'm waiting for their feedback, but I'm curious as to how other translators resolve this.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:59
Member (2007)
English
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My 2c worth Aug 18, 2014

Probably only worth half a cent as this isn't my area at all.

Aren't chemical formulae the same the world over? I mean, loads of the ones I see can't possibly be in English or else the abbreviation for lead wouldn't be Pb and sodium wouldn't be NA. At least in those languages that share an alphabet, don't they stay the same? If so, you can get Wordfast (at least) to copy them across in a trice.


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:59
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
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TOPIC STARTER
to clarify Aug 18, 2014

Your are talking about chemical elements, not formulae. What I am referring to is things like ".N-(3-ethyl-1-((6-methylpyridin-2-yl)methyl)-1H-indazol-4-yl)-7-(4-methylpiperazine-1-carbonyl)imidazo[1,2-a]pyridine-3-carboxamide" counting as one word instead of 20.

Each of these words that are joined together have to be translated, and CAT tools don't read them as individual segments- so since every single one is slightly different, you don't get a lot of matches either.


[Edited at 2014-08-18 13:06 GMT]


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KateKaminski
Local time: 16:59
German to English
Check the text before accepting the job Aug 18, 2014

It's probably a bit late to negotiate with the agency about this now as the job is finished and you presumably agreed on the fee in advance.

Next time, have a good look through the text first and try to identify any potential problems which might slow you down or leave you underpaid for the work spent on the project. Bring these up with the client before accepting the job.

For instance, you could charge an extra charge (hourly rate) after estimating how much more time it will take to translate the formulae.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:59
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It is quite a long "word" Aug 18, 2014

Hege Jakobsen Lepri wrote:
".N-(3-ethyl-1-((6-methylpyridin-2-yl)methyl)-1H-indazol-4-yl)-7-(4-methylpiperazine-1-carbonyl)imidazo[1,2-a]pyridine-3-carboxamide" counting as one word instead of 20.

Each of these words that are joined together have to be translated, and CAT tools don't read them as individual segments- so since everyone is slightly different, you don't get a lot of matches either.

Yes, I see your point. I can certainly see that you should be counting nine words, minimum. In your situation I think I'd want to devise some quick way of putting some spaces in just for the purposes of the wordcount. If you could get spaces around most of them (maybe by inserting a space before/after words preceded/followed by dashes and brackets then your client ought to accept that, surely. You might count a few normal hyphenated words as two, but then you'd probably be missing a few chemical names to even things out. Then, if you had them in your glossary you could just take them from there and be quids in.


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Hege Jakobsen Lepri  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:59
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
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TOPIC STARTER
Positive suprise! Aug 19, 2014

After explaining the situation to the client, they had a look at it, and added 3000 words to my PO, which was good, because if the translation was lengthy, the proofreading of that part of the translation took almost as long due to the nature of the text.
So even if I had accepted the job and PO (a large rush job that arrived after another translator "disappeared" without delivering), there is nothing saying the client can't be reasonable...


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Word count in documents with very long chemical formulae

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