How to arrive at billable Source Word Count from a German PDF file for Quotation purpose?
Thread poster: Gopinath Jambulingam

Gopinath Jambulingam  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:53
Member (2013)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 2018

Hi,

Greetings from Gem Translators!

We have received a German to English translation enquiry for an 8-pages legal document in pdf file format. Client insisted in the enquiry that we should reply with the Source Word Count, Quote per SW, and timeline for delivery.

Subsequently, we were able to convert the PDF into MS Word file, using NITRO PDF and got the word count also. But, we were unable to inform the WC to our client because, the word count arrived by
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Hi,

Greetings from Gem Translators!

We have received a German to English translation enquiry for an 8-pages legal document in pdf file format. Client insisted in the enquiry that we should reply with the Source Word Count, Quote per SW, and timeline for delivery.

Subsequently, we were able to convert the PDF into MS Word file, using NITRO PDF and got the word count also. But, we were unable to inform the WC to our client because, the word count arrived by us is 2300 and the estimated WC is 3500 as indicated by a native-speaking German translator.

As there was huge difference in the source word count, we submitted quote on TW basis to our client. He rejected our quote, insisting that we should let him know the Source Word Count of the document & our quote on SW basis.

One of the native-speaking German translators sought 50 Euros to let us know the exact SW count, citing that it is a process. Since this is a potential job we replied our disinterest.

However, to handle future enquiries, we would like to know the following:

1) What is the industry standard billing procedure for German to English translation, where the source file is a) PDF b) MS Word ?

2) Are there any reliable, free-of-cost online resources to convert PDF to MS Word, in case of German language? If yes, kindly share the weblink.

Thanking you for your valuable feedback, in advance.

With warm regards
Gopinath Jambulingam
www.gemtranslators.com
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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 03:23
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Interesting Sep 22, 2018

So you got a German source and cannot read it. Most agencies in such a case post a job and let an German speaking translator do the word count. Then they tell the result to the original customer. Or you could have made a project in SDL or the like and let the software do the job.

Gopinath Jambulingam
 

Gopinath Jambulingam  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:53
Member (2013)
Tamil to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for your reply, but would appreciate if you can let me know other options apart from SDL. Sep 22, 2018

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

So you got a German source and cannot read it. Most agencies in such a case post a job and let an German speaking translator do the word count. Then they tell the result to the original customer. Or you could have made a project in SDL or the like and let the software do the job.


 

Katrin Braams  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:23
Member (2018)
English to German
+ ...


Posted via
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Count Anything Sep 22, 2018

I use ‚Count Anything‘, which is fairly accurate. It’s free:

http://ginstrom.com/CountAnything/


 

Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:23
English to Russian
Just quote by job Sep 23, 2018

In such cases I just quote by job: "This work will cost you X bills. Full stop here."
You (as a client) have two options: accept / not accept.
You never ask how many details a new car has. You just pay for the entire vehicle. Why not apply the same approach to translation? I sell, you buy. My product costs this much. Don't ask me why. Just buy or not.
Pricing is your own business. Why should you report to Tom, Dick and Harry how you build your prices.

[Edited at
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In such cases I just quote by job: "This work will cost you X bills. Full stop here."
You (as a client) have two options: accept / not accept.
You never ask how many details a new car has. You just pay for the entire vehicle. Why not apply the same approach to translation? I sell, you buy. My product costs this much. Don't ask me why. Just buy or not.
Pricing is your own business. Why should you report to Tom, Dick and Harry how you build your prices.

[Edited at 2018-09-23 06:07 GMT]
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José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:23
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Something here doesn't make sense Sep 23, 2018

How can you quote in TWs since you have not done the translation yet?
There is no difference between a German word and any other word. A word is a word. Why do you need a German-speaking translator to tell you the word count? Am I missing something?
If the client already knows the word count (3500), why are they asking you for a word count?


Mirko Mainardi
 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:23
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
quote by the job??? Sep 23, 2018

Stepan Konev wrote:

In such cases I just quote by job: "This work will cost you X bills. Full stop here."


This is unrealistic in the translation world as I know it. If the client wants source words, give them source words. Plus surcharges for complex PDFs if that is your policy. Why not? You have to base your own calculation for the job based on something; it may as well be source words. If you prefer to be paid in target words because it is more lucrative for you (as in my case, from Russian to English!), just add in to your quote a percentage for the "expansion" factor from source language to target.


 

Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:23
English to Russian
Ok, then I do unrealistic things Sep 23, 2018

If a client have no idea on what a source word is, or when page-making takes more time than translating (e.g. AutoCAD drawings), I just tell my client the price and they don’t care what it is based on. Can’t understand what is that incredible here?
In Russia it is common to count in characters. 1800 chars roughly equal to 250 words.
Client wants words? Ok let it be words. Any number he/she wants. Want 2300 words? Ok, let it be 2300 words for 400 bucks. Want 3500 words, ok let it
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If a client have no idea on what a source word is, or when page-making takes more time than translating (e.g. AutoCAD drawings), I just tell my client the price and they don’t care what it is based on. Can’t understand what is that incredible here?
In Russia it is common to count in characters. 1800 chars roughly equal to 250 words.
Client wants words? Ok let it be words. Any number he/she wants. Want 2300 words? Ok, let it be 2300 words for 400 bucks. Want 3500 words, ok let it be 3500 words for 400 bucks. Want 1 word? No problem. This 1 word is 400 bucks. It doesn’t matter at all, the job is 400 bucks. That’s it.
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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:23
Member
English to French
Clients insisting Sep 23, 2018

Gopinath Jambulingam wrote:
...
1) What is the industry standard billing procedure for German to English translation, where the source file is a) PDF b) MS Word ?

From what I hear, translations from German are mostly quoted in source characters rather than words.
As far as I understand, a German word has little value as a translation yardstick due to the fact that one German word can be made of a series of "concepts". A German word is therefore not representative of the time spent to translate it in another language and characters as units seem more relevant.

Example (from http://www.sprachlog.de/2013/06/05/das-neue-laengste-wort-des-deutschen/ ):
Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung = 1 word in German
In words, the expansion rate is somewhere around 800% with many European languages for this word.
In characters, the expansion rate is far less.

The native German translator who quoted 3500 words may just have their own recipe (the 'Process' referred to) to work out German "pseudo-words" (about 8 "words" in previous example) from their own character count. A recipe they may apply when clients insist that they should get a source word count and a source word rate, even if a word (a series of letters between a space and a space or a punctuation mark) is totally irrelevant as a measurement of the effort anticipated. Words may not be the ideal unit either in Japanese or Chinese.

The text format shouldn't have any impact on the number of words/characters/pages.

Let's never forget that whatever the unit used (character, page, source word, target word, "weighted" word [which means nothing BTW when not associated to its discount matrix], lump sum...), it is meant to reflect the time anticipated to translate a text piece, and consequently hourly earnings (based on a fixed price per unit). Because at the end of the day, you sell your expert time, not buckets of letters, words or paper sheets.

Philippe


Stepan Konev
 

Stepan Konev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:23
English to Russian
Word Sep 23, 2018

No matter what measuring units are.
What matters is how much you want to earn for that.


Philippe Etienne
José Henrique Lamensdorf
 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 22:23
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In memoriam
Suspect clients obsessed with word count Sep 23, 2018

If a client is not so interested in knowing how much the entire job will cost as s/he is in knowing the word count, beware!

OCR and word counting may involve a lot of work. Eventually you'll say something like, "Your job has 8,987 words, and I would charge $898.70 to do it". That client will approach another translator, saying "I have a 8,987 words job, and a translator who charges me 10¢/word. Can you do it
... See more
If a client is not so interested in knowing how much the entire job will cost as s/he is in knowing the word count, beware!

OCR and word counting may involve a lot of work. Eventually you'll say something like, "Your job has 8,987 words, and I would charge $898.70 to do it". That client will approach another translator, saying "I have a 8,987 words job, and a translator who charges me 10¢/word. Can you do it cheaper?" All your OCR and word counting effort will have been wasted.

One workable approach - though I can't imagine a potentially cheap, wordcount-obsessive client in our trade who would accept it - would be to say, "I'll charge $50 (or any other amount) in advance for OCR, word count and a cost estimate. If you hire me to translate it, this amount will be fully credited to (i.e. deducted from the total on) your invoice."
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Kevin Fulton
Gopinath Jambulingam
Philippe Etienne
Stepan Konev
 

Gopinath Jambulingam  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 06:53
Member (2013)
Tamil to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Let me clear some misunderstanding Sep 24, 2018

Susan Welsh wrote:

How can you quote in TWs since you have not done the translation yet?
There is no difference between a German word and any other word. A word is a word. Why do you need a German-speaking translator to tell you the word count? Am I missing something?
If the client already knows the word count (3500), why are they asking you for a word count?


1. I would mean TW basis is to be perceived as TW Rate. This will be multiplied with the number of English words arrived after completion of the translation.

2. Why I required German-speaking translator to tell you the word count, because, I am not sure whether the PDF to MS Word conversion done my Nitro PDF is correct. You might be aware that there can be errors in the conversion process that are unique to a language.

3. 3500 word count is an approximation given by a German Translator and not by my client.


 

Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:23
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
A word is a word Sep 24, 2018

Gopinath Jambulingam wrote:

2. Why I required German-speaking translator to tell you the word count, because, I am not sure whether the PDF to MS Word conversion done my Nitro PDF is correct. You might be aware that there can be errors in the conversion process that are unique to a language.


There are no errors in the conversion process in German that are unique to German, or in Russian that are unique to Russian, or in English that are unique to English. Those are the only languages I have OCR'd. Perhaps with RTL languages or languages that don't use alphabets, like Chinese or Japanese, there are differences, I don't know about that. As Philippe wrote, there are some very long German words, so German LSPs often quote in characters or lines rather than words. It gives a more accurate picture, but I find it hard to grasp, because I'm accustomed to word lengths (what do 245,637 characters actually amount to?). But that is irrelevant to the OCR conversion process.

It sounds like the German translator who estimated the word length of your document (presumably without OCR) was simply wrong. He or she took a typical line, counted the words, and multiplied by the number of lines--or something like that, a very imprecise procedure.


 


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