Charging by source or target word for German to French - what is standard?
Thread poster: xxxjoeclimber05
xxxjoeclimber05  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 17:47
German to English
Jan 1, 2008

We recently set up a translation agency and, based on our freelance expeience, agreed to invoice customers per source word. For a project involving German to English, Italian and French translation, the French translator invoiced me per target word - 38% more than the source word count. The explanation: German contains many compound nouns which are longer to translate into other languages. The English and French translations were each about 18% longer than the German, but the translators still invoiced me for source word.
Can anyone advise? Is French more "wordy" than German?
Which is standard - source or target?


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:47
Dutch to English
+ ...
"Standard" is whatever you agreed from the outset Jan 1, 2008

Did you issue a PO to the translator?

What did the PO say? In the absence of a formal PO, did you discuss this in any other correspondence relating to the project?

French, as a Romance language would generally be wordier, but that's not the point.

[Edited at 2008-01-01 20:23]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:47
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a matter of who will take the risk Jan 1, 2008

Our legal counsel here is right: it's whatever was agreed at the outset.

But what's the difference?

If the source text is a MS Word, or any other, file where it's easy to count words, settling on a rate per source word will make the client sure on about how much they will spend to get the job done. On the other hand, while the translator will know beforehand how much money s/he will get for it, there is no clear-cut definition on how much work it involves. If a "widget" has to be translated as a "red, round, flat gizmo often used in North America in the final manufacturing process of whatchamacallits", the client's expenditure is "safe" while the translator's work might be sold cheap. However, if it''s the other way around, and that long explanation will be translated just as a "gizmo", the client's expense will remain unchanged, but the translator will make an easy buck from this gig.

If the source material is handwritten, on hardcopy, or a scanned PDF file, word counting might be an impossible, useless, or potentially inaccurate task. So the way out is to set the rate on a per target word basis. The cilent will bear the risk. In the above example, the final cost may change from 1 to 16 times the rate. The translator will get a fair price all the time.

It's worth knowing the average swelling or shrinking in your language pair. I know that in mine, EN-PT, text may swell up to 20% going from EN to PT. This helps to set an adequate rate while placing the risk on the party willing to take it.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:47
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Target character count Jan 2, 2008

The de-facto standard in Germany and Scandinavia is to pay for the work, that is the volume of the target text. The standard line is 55 characters including spaces.
Sourcewordcount is often used when using Trados, that means if the outsourcer provides a Trados-TM. But German and among others Finnish language have so long words, that the wordcount is a dangerous base for calculation. In fact nobody wants to except adequate word-rates for Finnish sourcetexts, but has no difficulty when the same money is charged according to the word-count for instance in English. Its pourly psychology.

Generally English source text corresponds to 1.1 times the volume in German, but 0.9 - 1.0 the volume in Finnish. Again I'm talking about character count, not the amount of words.
If a translator exceeds these limits, it could indicate sloppy work, if not the subject is such, that additional explanations are necessary for the target audience.

Cheers
Heinrich


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Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 18:47
English to Swedish
+ ...
Not true Jan 2, 2008

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
The de-facto standard in Germany and Scandinavia is to pay for the work, that is the volume of the target text.


Hi Heinrich and all,

This is not true from my horizon. I've been in the business for seven years here in Sweden, working with both Scandinavian, Finnish and German translators, and we totally rely on the source count!
When a client approaches me, he wants to know the cost on the spot. I can't say "let's translate this first and see...". Whether I use a CAT tool or not, confirming the exact price beforehand is plain common sense.

Heinrich Pesch wrote:
Sourcewordcount is often used when using Trados, that means if the outsourcer provides a Trados-TM. But German and among others Finnish language have so long words, that the wordcount is a dangerous base for calculation. In fact nobody wants to except adequate word-rates for Finnish sourcetexts, but has no difficulty when the same money is charged according to the word-count for instance in English. Its pourly psychology.


I don't see the problem here. If all the translators from Finnish knows that Finnish source texts are much more labour intense, they will set their prices accordingly, all of them. Same goes with translators from German! It's simply the "invisible hand" of the market ruling!

/Jan


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 19:47
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
OK then Jan 2, 2008

J-a-n S-ndstr-m wrote:

I don't see the problem here. If all the translators from Finnish knows that Finnish source texts are much more labour intense, they will set their prices accordingly, all of them. Same goes with translators from German! It's simply the "invisible hand" of the market ruling!

/Jan


From my customers only a fraction ask for sourceword-rates, and these require Trados or SDLX. If someone aks me to translate a Finnish text and I offer 0.20 Euro per source-word, I never hear from her again, but if I offer the translation for total X Euro, they say: Go ahead! Often they pay more this way

Last year I had 50+ customers, only one of them counts German sourcewords.

What I wanted to emphasise, is that character based rates are more just from the translator's point of view. A character is a keystroke, but a word can be 1-30+ keystrokes.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:47
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Heinrich Jan 2, 2008

I do German > English and usually invoice German clients target lines (of 55 characters) and US clients target words. Very few of my clients count source words. Nothing wrong with it; it just hasn't been common in my experience.

I also agree that the OP should have stated the payment terms in advance. Just pay the translator what they ask this time and state clearly that you'll be quoting and paying in source words in the future.


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Crystal Samples  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:47
French to English
+ ...
I agree with this Jan 2, 2008

Lawyer-Linguist wrote:

Did you issue a PO to the translator?

What did the PO say? In the absence of a formal PO, did you discuss this in any other correspondence relating to the project?

French, as a Romance language would generally be wordier, but that's not the point.

[Edited at 2008-01-01 20:23]


It's always good to agree to this before the translator begins to work. However, for me, the choice of source or target word depends on the document format, not the language to be translated. If it is a PDF, JPEG, hard copy, or any other format where word counting would be tedious and time-consuming, then I charge by target word. However, for MS Word documents and the like, I will usually charge per source word.

Crystal


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xxxjoeclimber05  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 17:47
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Charging by source or target word - reply Jan 4, 2008

Hi All,

Thank you very much for your valuable comments. The problem from the outset was that I didn't stipulate upon which basis I was going to pay. However as I defined the wordcount (source) in my mail I took it for granted that it was going to be source.

I agree with Jan that customers want to know the price of a job in advance and will not wait until the job is finished. The long term approch is probobly to charge per line with 55 keystrokes per line - source. In the meantime, for this customer I have to stick to my agreement - source word count. So I either take the hit (the target was 38% longer than source!) or I get tough on the translator. Its a tricky one, maybe I should suggest a compromise (quick payment or whatever).

Thanks for the info re romance languages "swelling" by up to 20% while English/German are roughly similiar unless you need to explain terms.

Any further thoughts would also be welcome.

Emer


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