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How many words per day can you translate on a day-to-day basis?
Thread poster: jjacek
jjacek
Local time: 04:22
English to Polish
Apr 2, 2008

How many words per day can you translate on a day-to-day basis? How many words/day do you think a beginning translator can translate?

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2008-04-02 20:20]


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:22
French to English
+ ...
another question Apr 2, 2008

What level of quality can you produce consistently, day in and day out, and what level of service can your clients expect from you, day in and day out?

(another way of looking at the issue, since translations are not commodities that one purchases by the pound and are not identical products whose sole criteria of differentiation is price)..

My two cents...

Cheers!

Patricia


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 22:22
English to French
+ ...
Rephrasing of another question Apr 2, 2008

Patricia's question is very pertinent. I will try to rephrase it, because I happen to have been just thinking of exactly the same subject before I logged in a minute ago.

Do you mean translating straightforward, well-formatted, "as-is" text? I have calculated that, with the type of texts I usually translate, in any given hour of working, I actively translate only for 30 to 35 minutes in average. The other 25 to 30 minutes are spent mainly on term research, but also on communicating with the client about inconsistencies, making lists of questions, formatting the text, installing special fonts, quality assurance, etc. This ratio may be different in your case depending mainly on the type and quality of texts you translate. I plan my work in a way that will ensure that I translate without any interruptions, and I have designed a workflow that is suitable for this purpose. This means that I don't search for terms while I translate - I do that before beginning to translate (when I first read the text, I identify terms that will need research, and I also use AntConc to make a list of terms without having to read the entire document). Questions to the client are not compiled during translation either - I only highlight questionable text strings while I translate, and I compile the list of questions only at the end of the day. This allows me to concentrate on one activity at a time, which enhances the quality of my translations and allows for a clear organization of my work, which also benefits the client.

Now, if I ask myself your question, within the block of time that I spend actively translating, I have an hourly output between 250 and 400 words. But if I average out the number of hours spent on all of the above mentioned tasks, I can only produce roughly half of the aforementioned value. Please, also note that my hourly output is slightly above average.

This is why it is important to measure the time you spend on each activity that is part of your translation workflow. If you look at your question from my perspective, you will most likely realize that you are underselling yourself, as most translators probably would. In fact, I realized recently that if I want to earn my target revenue (which is a normal revenue, not an extravagant one - I take into account the taxes I will have to pay and my cost of business), I would have to charge 20 cents per word, taking into account the time I spend on other tasks that are necessary for a quality translation. Needless to say, I don't charge 20 cents per word - but I should and I will soon find a way to do just that.

This may not necessarily answer your question, but it will help you to figure out where you stand.

All the best!


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Stanislaw Czech, MCIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:22
Member (2006)
English to Polish
+ ...
depends Apr 2, 2008

On what kind of text is it and how many similar documents you have already translated. And on the source language too of course. For example the same text in English will have some 15% more words than the same text in Polish.

The rough figure in my opinion would be something between 1-3k

Best Regards
S


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Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:22
English to Spanish
3,500 words per day Apr 2, 2008

If you are a beginner or getting established I would recommend that you offer around 3,500 words per day (proofread, polished, final product, ready to go...). Otherwise, no client or agency will be very interested in your services.

This means that depending on the type of text, you may have to stay up ALL night, but nobody is to know. In the end, wether it's me finishing at 5pm or you finishing at 5am, who cares? who knows? the important thing is to meet the dealine and deliver a acceptable standard of quality.

In any case, if you are just starting, try not to take on more than you can actually handle. If you miss a deadline, you'll lost a client (or agency).

All the best,
Jean-Pierre


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:22
English to Arabic
+ ...
Excuse me?ُ Apr 2, 2008

Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:

If you are a beginner or getting established I would recommend that you offer around 3,500 words per day (proofread, polished, final product, ready to go...). .


and then...

Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:

In any case, if you are just starting, try not to take on more than you can actually handle. If you miss a deadline, you'll lost a client (or agency).


Are you trying to scare the asker off the market? So s/he, as a beginner, is supposed to offer to do around 3,500 words a day, while at the same time not taking on more than s/he can handle?
I suspect you're joking - though for the benefit of the asker the humor should have been a bit more obvious!

I agree with everything Victoria says, and on that basis would say that anything between 1,500 and 2,500 is realistic, depending on a number of factors, as Victoria points out.


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Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 04:22
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Plenty of small jobs... Apr 2, 2008

So why is it very important to specify the no of words you can translate per day?
I find that varies a lot. Depends on the source text, how many times I am interrupted during work and a lot of other things. So none of us can tell you how many words you can do. I don't even know how fast you type, do I?

Nobody is very likely to offer a complete beginner a huge job anyway - unless they are quite desperate, I suppose.
Most new clients offer me small jobs first - and I would think that is quite common.
So when you have done a few of those, you will have a better idea of how much you can take on and not be swamped with work.
(Like I have been for the last week, but tomorrow I am taking up Özdens advice and starting an early weekend )
http://www.proz.com/forum/off_topic/98608-fed_up_ruining_a_weekend_with_work-.html

Good luck!

[Edited at 2008-04-02 23:49]


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Andrea Riffo  Identity Verified
Chile
Local time: 23:22
English to Spanish
honestly? Apr 3, 2008

Unlike Nesrin, I do not think you're joking. Unfortunately.

Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:

If you are a beginner or getting established I would recommend that you offer around 3,500 words per day (proofread, polished, final product, ready to go...). Otherwise, no client or agency will be very interested in your services.



If a beginner told me they can pull 3,500 word per day with final quality, I would fear that (a) they are overestimating themselves, (b) they do not bother with basic terminology research, or (c) both a and b.


Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:
This means that depending on the type of text, you may have to stay up ALL night, but nobody is to know. In the end, wether it's me finishing at 5pm or you finishing at 5am, who cares? who knows? the important thing is to meet the dealine and deliver a acceptable standard of quality.


I probably wouldn't know, but would still be pretty certain that they are, in fact, pulling all-nighters. Either that or, again, absolutely no regard to basic terminology research.

The fact that quality tends to suffer when pulling inhuman hours is also a pretty good indicator. Add to it that striving for merely "acceptable" quality instead of GOOD quality is probably not a good idea, either.


Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:
In any case, if you are just starting, try not to take on more than you can actually handle. If you miss a deadline, you'll lost a client (or agency).


ehmmm... ok


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
Depends on the type of text Apr 3, 2008

Jean-Pierre Bergez Saretzki wrote:

offer around 3,500 words per day (proofread, polished, final product, ready to go...). Otherwise, no client or agency will be very interested in your services.


3,500?

I've been translating for years and I always tell clients my daily output is 2,250. Judging from the amount of work I have, they're happy with that output.

Obviously I can do more if the writing style doesn't matter. But most of the jobs I translate require style as well as substance.


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N Ivan Contreras
Local time: 22:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Is typing speed the bottle neck? Apr 3, 2008

I am not a fast typist, and I suppose at some point I may have to hire a typist whom I can dictate to. Does that sound familiar?

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María Angélica Fernández  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 23:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends on the text... Apr 3, 2008

Of course the average translation volume is around 2,500 words a day, but it depends on the difficulty of the text and the language you are translating to.

For example, last week I needed more than 10 hours for translating a 3,500 words contract into English (which is not my mother tongue), and today I translated other easier documents (into English too) which resulted in about 3,200 target words in just four hours.

So, it is a matter of how complex the text is, how competent you are in the field you are translating and whether your target language is your mother tongue or not.

Best regards,
Angélica

[Editado a las 2008-04-03 01:53]


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N Ivan Contreras
Local time: 22:22
English to Spanish
+ ...
Does dictating to a fast typist help? Apr 3, 2008

Is dictating a common practice among slow-typing translators?

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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 04:22
Spanish to English
+ ...
2,000 - 2,500 Apr 3, 2008

Steven Capsuto wrote:

I've been translating for years and I always tell clients my daily output is 2,250. Judging from the amount of work I have, they're happy with that output.

Obviously I can do more if the writing style doesn't matter. But most of the jobs I translate require style as well as substance.


This is true for me, too. I usually count on 2,000 - 2,500 words a day, depending on the text.


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:22
Member
French to English
+ ...
2000 per day, 10K per week Apr 3, 2008

I agree with others that 3 500 words is ridiculous. I don't consider myself a beginner any more and I would never accept a job this size for delivery within 24 hours (and I doubt that any of my clients would try to suggest it either!).

Although it is sometimes possible to translate more words per day, I generally state 2000 words (translated, edited, proofread, and client-ready) as my daily output (10 000 words per week).

Whilst I can often complete a 10 000 word translation in four days, five 1 500 word translations might take longer. You will likely find that your "average output" varies depending on the length of the text you're translating. The longer the text, the more you will become accustomed to the tone, terms, and style and the easier it will be once you're really "into" the translation.

Being stressed and exhausted is not a good way to start out and you are likely best to "start small" to ensure that you have time to fully research, proofread, and perfect your translations. There is no reason why you should not be able to make a very decent salary translating about 2000 words per day. As always, quality rather than quantity is most often what good clients are after.

Best,
Jocelyne


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Andrzej Mierzejewski  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 04:22
Polish to English
+ ...
... some 15% more words than the same text in Polish. Apr 3, 2008

Stanislaw Czech wrote:

On what kind of text is it and how many similar documents you have already translated. And on the source language too of course. For example the same text in English will have some 15% more words than the same text in Polish.

The rough figure in my opinion would be something between 1-3k

Best Regards
S
I will add that on the other hand, any PL translation volume is likely to be bigger by 5...15% in terms of signs +spaces than the EN original despite the smaller word count. This is confirmed by agencies I work with. Polish words and expressions are usually longer than their English counterparts.
On the other hand, when translating PL>EN, the volume shrinks by up to 5%.
Due to that I calculate my EN>PL work based on the the sign + spaces number of the target text. My capacity is 8,000-18,000 a day depending on the difficulty level.


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