Translating 800 Words Per Hour
Thread poster: Baran Keki

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:56
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
Nov 13, 2019

Hi,
I received an email from a translation agency the other day where they asked my hourly rate (for both translation and review) and also asked me to read their attached "payment policy".
Upon reading their "payment policy", I saw that the "hourly rate" meant translating 800 words per hour and reviewing 1600 words per hour.
I have never been able to translate more than 300 words in an hour, and I don't think anybody can translate 800 words (with or without the help of machi
... See more
Hi,
I received an email from a translation agency the other day where they asked my hourly rate (for both translation and review) and also asked me to read their attached "payment policy".
Upon reading their "payment policy", I saw that the "hourly rate" meant translating 800 words per hour and reviewing 1600 words per hour.
I have never been able to translate more than 300 words in an hour, and I don't think anybody can translate 800 words (with or without the help of machine translation) and deliver a decent job at the end.
This translation agency appears to be a big corporation so I'm guessing they must be working with major brands.
I'd like to know if translating 800 words per hour is actually something doable, and would also like to understand how it is possible for a translation agency/company relying on people who translate 800 words per hour to be still in this business and keep their clients.
Btw, they also have a "bonus system" where they give you 100 USD "if they win the customer".
I was going to post this topic on Translation Agencies forum, but I kept getting an error message.
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Eva Stoppa  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:56
Member
English to German
+ ...
Translation forum as I understand it Nov 13, 2019

...Is for Translation agencies to post in, not for freelancers.

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:56
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Not normally Nov 13, 2019

Baran Keki wrote:

...I'd like to know if translating 800 words per hour is actually something doable...



No. Not normally, and not for a long time.

If the text contains a lot of repetitions, it's conceivable that 800 words of it might be translatable in one hour, but then you'd have to go and lie down in a darkened room. You certainly wouldn't be able to keep up that speed for more than an hour.


Baran Keki
Morano El-Kholy
William Tierney
Josephine Cassar
Christine Andersen
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:56
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes I know Nov 13, 2019

Eva Stoppa wrote:

...Is for Translation agencies to post in, not for freelancers.

I explained that at the bottom of my post. But I think this forum is also pertinent in that I'm trying to get to grips with the "business mentality" of that translation agency.
Thanks


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:56
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I wouldn't accept those terms Nov 13, 2019

I’ve never charged translation per hour and the number of words I’m able to translate per hour depends on many factors, namely the type of text, the subject matter, the language combination and even my mood of the day. As a rule of thumb, I’d say that I can usually translate 1,500-2,000 words per day (I don’t use CAT tools) and I have occasionally achieved much more than that.

Morano El-Kholy
William Tierney
Tradupro17
Baran Keki
Christine Andersen
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:56
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
SITE LOCALIZER
So, that simply means that they defined it Nov 13, 2019

Baran Keki wrote:
Upon reading their payment policy, I saw that the "hourly rate" meant translating 800 words per hour and reviewing 1600 words per hour.


Okay, so that's easy then. By their definition of "hourly rate", one's hourly rate is 800x one's translation rate. For example, if your translation rate is USD 0.10 per word, then your hourly rate for translation is USD 80.00. This doesn't mean that they expect you to translate 800 words per hour. It simply means that they will tell you how many "hours" a job is worth (based on the word count), and then you can invoice them for each of those "hours" (even if you took longer than 1 hour to complete one of those "hours"). It's a good thing the project manager alerted you to the payment policy where what the company means by "hourly rate" is so clearly defined.

I have never been able to translate more than 300 words in an hour, and I don't think anybody can translate 800 words (with or without the help of machine translation) and deliver a decent job at the end.


800 words is possible, though usually by using machine translation, in fields and languages that are suitable for those kinds of speeds. But I agree that not all fields and not all language combinations can achieve 800 words per hour of high quality.

I was going to post this topic on Translation Agencies forum, but I kept getting an error message.


That is because the Translation Agencies forum is for translation agencies.



[Edited at 2019-11-13 11:06 GMT]


Morano El-Kholy
Philippe Etienne
Maurits Meulenbelt
 

Michael Newton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 08:56
Member (2003)
Japanese to English
+ ...
800 words per hour Nov 13, 2019

I can usually translate 600 words per hour but I have had years of practice and discipline. 800 words sounds like 3 full pages plus. This is a tall order. I wouldn't do it. It sounds like a translation factory of which there are more and more.

 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 21:56
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
800 words Nov 13, 2019

Michael Newton wrote:

I can usually translate 600 words per hour but I have had years of practice and discipline. 800 words sounds like 3 full pages plus. This is a tall order. I wouldn't do it. It sounds like a translation factory of which there are more and more.

Actually, at size 12 single-spaced, 800 words would be a little under 2 pages.

As for the agency specifying 1 hour as 800 words, well, that's a great opportunity to charge $80 per hour and use that as justification.


Jessica Noyes
Tradupro17
Christine Andersen
Haluk Aka, Chartered Linguist (MCIL)
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:56
Member
English to French
Sure Nov 13, 2019

even without MT!

But on the following conditions:
no research
no attempts to refine style
no adaptation to context: word/term repetitions, linking words, clarifying...
no rereading on the fly, let alone overall rereading
no attention to consistency
no spellcheck other than automated
etc.

If you're paid for 800 words an hour, the least you can do is to comply and do 800 words per hour.

Philippe


Baran Keki
Morano El-Kholy
Vadim Kadyrov
 

Baran Keki  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 16:56
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My thoughts exactly Nov 13, 2019

Philippe Etienne wrote:

even without MT!

But on the following conditions:
no research
no attempts to refine style
no adaptation to context: word/term repetitions, linking words, clarifying...
no rereading on the fly, let alone overall rereading
no attention to consistency
no spellcheck other than automated
etc.

If you're paid for 800 words an hour, the least you can do is to comply and do 800 words per hour.

Philippe


No research, no double-checking etc., the end result is bound to be rubbish even with MT. Btw, it has to be said that this agency has a stellar BB record here with entries like "Great Outsourcer", "An extremely good company to work for", "Interesting projects, prompt payments" etc.
Looks like it's the only agency in the industry where you can get the highest hourly rate without having to worry about the quality of your work


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:56
German to English
+ ...
It sounds like ... Nov 13, 2019

.... This potential customer doesn't understand enough about translation, and yet is trying to define policies which are best left up to the professional they are aiming to hire. How many words you translate per hour is going to depend on the difficulty of the text and other factors. Translators don't usually charge per hour. The "words per hour" also does not take into account the various steps involved in translation. You may research this and that. You will be revising your translation,... See more
.... This potential customer doesn't understand enough about translation, and yet is trying to define policies which are best left up to the professional they are aiming to hire. How many words you translate per hour is going to depend on the difficulty of the text and other factors. Translators don't usually charge per hour. The "words per hour" also does not take into account the various steps involved in translation. You may research this and that. You will be revising your translation, probably along at least two steps. That does not translate well into "per hour".Collapse


Michele Fauble
Baran Keki
Teresa Borges
 

Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 13:56
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Language? Nov 13, 2019

I wonder how much time I would take just to retype a text of 800 words. For me personally, English words would go far faster than Portuguese ones - for the matter of the length of words and (yes, taking that into account) because the Portuguese language has a handful of letters thatreuire a combination of 3 keys in a stroke - which takes its part of an additional time with each such letter.
So no, i would undertake up to 300 words per hour only; the time I save with an easy text is allocat
... See more
I wonder how much time I would take just to retype a text of 800 words. For me personally, English words would go far faster than Portuguese ones - for the matter of the length of words and (yes, taking that into account) because the Portuguese language has a handful of letters thatreuire a combination of 3 keys in a stroke - which takes its part of an additional time with each such letter.
So no, i would undertake up to 300 words per hour only; the time I save with an easy text is allocated to my own "time bank" used for more difficult texts.
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Laurent Mercky
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:56
Member (2018)
French to English
. Nov 14, 2019

It's funny that you're supposed to translate 800 words in an hour (as others have said, this is totally unreasonable on an ongoing basis), then proofread 1,600 words an hour, which is far more reasonable. I suppose if you're proofreading texts that have been translated at a rate of 800 words an hour, you need to take your time proofreading

(I averaged 500 words an hour translating and 2,000 words an hour proofreading when I worked in-house, but then I only ever had to proofread the
... See more
It's funny that you're supposed to translate 800 words in an hour (as others have said, this is totally unreasonable on an ongoing basis), then proofread 1,600 words an hour, which is far more reasonable. I suppose if you're proofreading texts that have been translated at a rate of 800 words an hour, you need to take your time proofreading

(I averaged 500 words an hour translating and 2,000 words an hour proofreading when I worked in-house, but then I only ever had to proofread the translators from the excellent pool I had put together)
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Viviane Marx  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
German to Portuguese
+ ...
PORTUGUESE LETTERS Nov 14, 2019

Inga Petkelyte wrote:

... For me personally, English words would go far faster than Portuguese ones - for the matter of the length of words and (yes, taking that into account) because the Portuguese language has a handful of letters thatreuire a combination of 3 keys in a stroke - which takes its part of an additional time with each such letter...


I also translate into Portuguese and I can change my keyboard from German into Portuguese. It helps a lot.


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:56
French to English
Tomorrow's news today Nov 15, 2019

As Philippe Etienne has pointed out, certain things are possible, but in certain conditions.

When I used to do a lot of work for sporting events, the communication people would often send a "page" (often 800-1000 words or more) to be returned within the hour. Sports comm people seemed to take half a day to write something up, meeting criteria that included filling a certain amount of space. That would then be sent off for translation very much at the last minute, or beyond, with the
... See more
As Philippe Etienne has pointed out, certain things are possible, but in certain conditions.

When I used to do a lot of work for sporting events, the communication people would often send a "page" (often 800-1000 words or more) to be returned within the hour. Sports comm people seemed to take half a day to write something up, meeting criteria that included filling a certain amount of space. That would then be sent off for translation very much at the last minute, or beyond, with the deadline for forwarding to the media being absolute. In other words, the comm's late work would push me to a fait accompli that was impossible in terms of quality. That meant churning out something that would pass for a translation, including key events, figures and general register etc. within 1 hour. It means trying to provide tomorrow's news today, as today's news tomorrow was old news. In line with Philippe's post, then yes, this is do-able, but obviously, you do not have the luxury of checking the finer points. It means you have to know all the termino for what you are writing about, which was the case. This was sustainable once a day over a number of days, even weeks, but all year round, no. Simply because it can mean dropping other work to get this urgent work done all the time. It also became extremely irritating as the very people imposing strict obedience were very slow payers.

After more than 10 years in this very specific environment, with a full order-book, I actually pretty much stopped working in sports fields that require press releases every day for the duration of an event lasting weeks. A matter of respect. Why should I be at their beck and call when they don't pay my invoices on time? Indeed, late payment from a number of comm' sports agencies was so recurrent that I swear I spent more time chasing payment that translating for them! I learnt a lot though:
- sports comm' agencies say 60 days end of the month but mean "not before 90 days end of the month"
- impose your terms: payment upon receipt of invoice and send a reminder at 15 days, recorded delivery at 21 days and invoice with interest from day 31 onwards;
- if not paid within 45 days, formalize the invoice + interest (injunction)
- if not paid within 60 days, sue.

Do I want to work like that with these people as my bread and butter? No. Indeed, these were my major clients for a long time, too long. I was so put off that I began thinking about a professional change and the idea took root. I still translate and interpret but am now a clinical psychologist.

All of that from a question about productivity. To conclude, I have no problem with assuming pressure and resist stress pretty well as it turns out. However, a minimum amount of recompense - and respect - for that availability is to be paid on time.

[Edited at 2019-11-15 09:12 GMT]
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