Counting Chinese source characters
Thread poster: Mark Sanderson

Mark Sanderson  Identity Verified
Taiwan
Local time: 09:29
Chinese to English
Aug 6, 2014

Hello,

I was recently offered an assignment by an agency where there was a massive discrepancy between their total calculated number of source characters and my copy of MS Word. The difference was over 2000 characters!

I asked the agency about this as I thought that the word count provided by MS Word was often viewed as the industry standard (yes, I know that some CAT tools produce a slightly different source character count).

The agency told me that they use their own in-house counting tool that they could not share with me.

Their exact response was:

"we use a specially-developed proprietary software tool that counts only the Chinese characters in the document for translation. Previously, we used the in-built MS word tool, but discovered that it counts all “double-byte” text as Asian characters, even text in English. Since the documents we usually deal with are often interspersed with double-byte English text as typed by clients in the course of preparing the document, we had this tool developed to count only the Chinese characters in the document and exclude double-byte English text. Also for further information we do not calculate the count of the MS word file."


I am not a computer programmer, therefore I have no idea if MS Word really does count "double-byte" English text as Chinese characters.

Have any other members experienced something similar? Have I been hoodwinked here, or is this a common problem in the Chinese to English language pair?

Thanks,

Mark


 

Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:29
Chinese to English
Do the count yourself Aug 6, 2014

So, are we to understand that you have a Word doc which is mainly in Chinese, but has some English in it? It's a pretty quick job just to go through deleting the English and then redoing the wordcount. If the answer then is close to theirs, then there's no issue.

It sounds like the doc is large, so if that would really be too much hassle (and it's not - even on a big doc, it's only about five minutes. Boring, but not that slow.), then do a sample. Take the first ten pages, wordcount, delete English, wordcount again, see what kind of proportional change you're getting.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 09:29
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
MS Word Aug 6, 2014

It is true that MS word counts double-byte English characters as single words. But like Phil said, it's not that hard to do your own count.

 

lbone  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:29
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Word/character count is not a problem; quote is Aug 6, 2014

There are various ways of counting words and characters, but the key is you need to know your overall quote.

It's not reasonable not to count English characters and numbers within a Chinese sentence. They are why the structure of the sentence is so complicated. You translate this Chinese sentence into an English one, place components in proper logical order and make modifications on these English characters wherever necessary to make sure they are grammatically correct in the new English sentence. They are part of your work.


[Edited at 2014-08-06 12:05 GMT]


 

Sharon Toh, MITI MCIL
Singapore
Local time: 09:29
Member (2009)
Chinese to English
+ ...
What is important is the amount billed for the job Aug 7, 2014

lbone wrote:

It's not reasonable not to count English characters and numbers within a Chinese sentence. They are why the structure of the sentence is so complicated. You translate this Chinese sentence into an English one, place components in proper logical order and make modifications on these English characters wherever necessary to make sure they are grammatically correct in the new English sentence. They are part of your work.


Right. There have been attempts (but fortunately not too often) to make me accept the practice of counting only the Chinese characters (or the Asian character count as indicated in MS Word) in Chinese source documents, and my answer has always been NO. If they insist, I tell them that I will need to charge a higher rate so that the total amount comes to around the same in the end. Most attempts end up with the client counting based on the total word count (including English words and numbers) or accepting a higher rate for counting only the Chinese characters.

Ultimately, what matters to me is that I charge the right amount I should be earning for the time spent on a job. As long as the end result (the total amount billed) is more or less the same, I don't care how they count...icon_smile.gif


 

ysun  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:29
English to Chinese
+ ...
Agree Aug 7, 2014

lbone wrote:

It's not reasonable not to count English characters and numbers within a Chinese sentence. They are why the structure of the sentence is so complicated. You translate this Chinese sentence into an English one, place components in proper logical order and make modifications on these English characters wherever necessary to make sure they are grammatically correct in the new English sentence. They are part of your work.

Clients should pay for everything they will get in translated files, not just for those translated from the Chinese characters.

For Chinese into English projects, I usually charge my clients based on word-counts in translated Word-format files.


 

Yan Yuliang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 09:29
Member (2008)
English to Chinese
+ ...
+1 Aug 7, 2014

English words, numbers, symbols, etc... everything that is part of a translatable segment should be counted and quoted!

It makes no sense to exclude English words from the total wordcount, since they are also part of the document. Without them some sentences may be incomplete or incorrect in meaning.



lbone wrote:

There are various ways of counting words and characters, but the key is you need to know your overall quote.

It's not reasonable not to count English characters and numbers within a Chinese sentence. They are why the structure of the sentence is so complicated. You translate this Chinese sentence into an English one, place components in proper logical order and make modifications on these English characters wherever necessary to make sure they are grammatically correct in the new English sentence. They are part of your work.


[Edited at 2014-08-06 12:05 GMT]


 


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