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What is the realistic translation speed
Thread poster: xxxBrandis
xxxBrandis
Local time: 03:41
English to German
+ ...
Jan 4, 2006

Hi! On and off I have been getting various application forms from agencies and they all want to know the speed issue. Sometimes I wrote 2000 words and or 1200 words or 3500 words but considering the human aspect what average speed one could accomplish in a day / hour etc., May be there should be a poll about this. Brandis

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Maria Diaconu  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 04:41
English to Romanian
There was a poll Jan 4, 2006

about this, on December 22nd.

[Edited at 2006-01-04 10:11]


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 03:41
Member (2005)
English to German
Depends on the text type Jan 4, 2006

The common metrics in my area (IT/manuals) is 2.500 words per day, and that means 8 hrs days. I have had texts where I performed double, or half.

It also depends on the person - my main problem is boredom (monotony), and that takes time

PS it also depends on the number of repetitions and near repetitions in the text - obviously you get a lot of those in IT/manuals but hardly any in the humanities, I hope

So I think that a poll is not meaningful enough, you need discussion

[Edited at 2006-01-04 11:29]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 02:41
2000... Jan 4, 2006

2000w/day seems to be average... depends on how easy/hard the text is, whether you're using a TM, glossary etc, if the phone keeps interrupting or mails keep coming in - so many distractions!
I can do about 2500-2700 on a really good "focussed" day, but usually if I hit 2000 words by the end of the day, I'm happy


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:41
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Depends on the texts Jan 4, 2006

If I have a text where in every sentence I need to look up at least one word either in dictionary or even worse - research it, I sometimes struggle even to produce the usual 2000 words a day. As a matter of fact, three weeks ago I was struggling with legal text and only managed to translate 1000 words a day for a whole week. However one day the other week I spent less than 6 hours translating and was astonished to find out I had translated almost 6000 words!! And I was not in a hurry either! The next day I did another 5000 words again! However all the text contained words I was familiar with (although it was a legal text), I hardly ever looked in the dictionary (but I did google a few things).
When filling in the questionnaires, I always state I can translate 2000 words a day. Still it does not mean a lot - I only agree to deadline when I see the text.

Cheers,
Burrell


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Peter Bouillon  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:41
French to German
+ ...
How long is a piece of string?! Jan 4, 2006

Brandis wrote:

They all want to know the speed issue. Sometimes I wrote 2000 words and or 1200 words or 3500 words but considering the human aspect what average speed one could accomplish in a day / hour etc.


Well,
  • firstly this will depend on the language combination.
  • Secondly, this will depend on the kind of text.
  • Thirdly, speed is not really a mark of quality for translation work.
  • Fourthly, an agency can have no earthly use for this figure (there is much more sense in asking for a weekly capacity).

Summed up, this is a very irrelevant question that has no definite answer. Average translation speed is the wrong thing to ask for.

The right question is, what is a customary answer to put into foolish questionnaires? I usually put 2000 words.

P.

[Edited at 2006-01-04 10:50]


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Michèle Ménard  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 03:41
French to Italian
+ ...
Translating books (humanities, social sciences) Jan 4, 2006

In the case of humanities/social sciences, you can translate up to 3000/3200 words a day (so did I). The problem is, your text always needs to be proofread, edited and revised. So, if I can translate 15000 words in a week (Mon to Fri, 8 h a day), I have to take at least one day more for revising my work. I usually translate two chapters in a row; when the second is complete, I revise the first, translate the third, revise the second, and so on.

[Edited at 2006-01-04 12:42]

[Edited at 2006-01-04 12:42]


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 18:41
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
There are so many factors... Jan 4, 2006

Whenever clients ask me how fast I can translate, I let them know about my maximum ratio of speed/accuracy, which I learned when I landed a Mon-Fri job with a news website. There were 2-3 articles a day, about 5k words total. Most of the times, I could get them done in about 5 1/2 - 6 hours (including a spell-check + self-check/proofreading before sending the material back by the end of the day).

Can I do this all the time? NO! First of all, it was from English into Portuguese, that is, my "second native language" into my "mother tongue". Secondly, I was in the middle of Journalism school at the time, so translating texts that followed the news style was something way too familiar. Thirdly, it was about technology and computers (with some cultural and political issues involved), and I had already majored in Data Processing. The circumstances were highly favorable, that is why I believe that was the best I could get out of an ideal job.

Whenever I receive a proposal for a new assignment, clients let me know how big the project is and when they'd like to have it back. I then analyze these three factors (language pair, writing style, and context) and go through all the projects I've been involved with in order to find the best match regarding this speed/accuracy ratio. Clients appreciate it when you're realistic about it and let them know, "If I have to translate from Spanish into Portuguese, for example, I'll probably be at my best with about 750 words / hour," or "My background in lightly medical documents is mostly voluntary so far, so I believe I can work on a 450 word / hour output."

I believe that the more you work with translations, the better you get to know your habilities. You soon figure out when you're at your best (morning, afternoon, or late night) and how many hours a day you can put into a large project (you'll feel it when you hit a wall). Then when clients ask me when I can send the translation back to them, I do the math pretty fast in my head and add 1 1/2 or 2 days to it, just to be on the safe side. Well, if you can surprise them by returning it earlier, they'll never complain.

Good luck and have fun!


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Jeff Allen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:41
Multiplelanguages
+ ...
link to translation speed survey Jan 4, 2006

Maria Diaconu wrote:
about this, on December 22nd.


and a survey in 2004 with article about the results.
The link takes you to 1 thread on it. That post takes you to another thread on the same topic.

link to article on survey on translation speed / daily capacity
http://www.proz.com/post/255411#255411

Jeff


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Daniele Martoglio  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:41
Polish to Italian
+ ...
Depends ALSO on the IQ of translator... Jan 4, 2006

This is a truth that none wrote until now.. May be it's not a popular truth, but.. it's true!

Rafa Lombardino wrote:
..."If I have to translate from Spanish into Portuguese, for example, I'll probably be at my best with about 750 words / hour," or "My background in lightly medical documents is mostly voluntary so far, so I believe I can work on a 450 word / hour output."


I am sure that Rafa has an inteligence significant OVER normal.
Peak spead near 750-1000 wph are possible with high IQ, near or over the mensa border.

There are many translator which have peak spead near 250 wph. Meeting many many people, and knowning also translator, i can say that they (these 250wph translators) are people with NORMAL inteligence.

So i estimate that the "IQ factor" can speed up the translation spead around a 3x ratio.

WARNING:
Peter Bouillon wrote:
Thirdly, speed is not really a mark of quality for translation work.


I can undersign with both hands.
1) To have an high IQ doesn't mean to be BETTER, means just to be DIFFERENT
2) A translator with NORMAL inteligence and a good knowledge can work very very well. The "product", the translated text can be at the highest quality.

Anyway the difference IS. And mailny you can see this difference in terms of speed.

Daniele



[Edited at 2006-01-04 22:45]


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Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 18:41
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Thank you for the compliment... Jan 5, 2006

Daniele Martoglio wrote:
I am sure that Rafa has an inteligence significantLY OVER normal. Peak spead near 750-1000 wph are possible with high IQ, near or over the mensa border.


Thank you so much for the compliment... that is, if you really meant it.

I'm sure it also helps when someone like myself has almost 15 years of experience in touch-typing (typing without looking at the keyboard).

As for my IQ, I don't believe it's higher than normal. I did well at school and all, but I've never been the most intelligent person around and I admit that I can only do math with the aid of a calculator...

Anyway, I was only trying to help. When I post questions here, I like when people talk about their personal experiences, so that I can see things from a whole new perspective. Maybe from now on I better refrain from being too specific with my comments and stick to replying only when I'm asked.


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chopra_2002  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 07:11
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
See also - Jan 5, 2006

http://www.proz.com/topic/29610

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Hipyan Nopri  Identity Verified
Indonesia
Local time: 08:41
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Familiarity with the text and typing speed Jan 5, 2006

There is no exact standard translation speed. It completely depends on the translator himself. Personally, my translation speed for general (familiar) texts such as texts on learning theories and educational research is 550-800 words per hour; for technical texts such as chemical, biological, and medical (with which I have long translation experience and familiarity) my speed is 370-550 words per hour; for technical texts (legal) with which I have relatively short experience my translation speed is only about 2000 words a day.
Furthermore, it also depends on the translator's typing speed. High typing speed will lead to high translation speed. In this case, my typing speed is one folio page per 6 minutes.
However, if we want to work in relaxed atmosphere (not working in hurry for a deadline), a translator had better state his slower speed than normal.


[Edited at 2006-01-05 08:45]

[Edited at 2006-01-05 14:02]


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Daniele Martoglio  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:41
Polish to Italian
+ ...
Rafa, please CONTINUE to be "specific" :) Jan 5, 2006

Rafa Lombardino wrote:

When I post questions here, I like when people talk about their personal experiences, so that I can see things from a whole new perspective. Maybe from now on I better refrain from being too specific with my comments and stick to replying only when I'm asked.


My translation speed it's near to your. Before of PROZ and "specific posts" i suppose that my speed it's normal. After PROZ and "specific posts", where translator wrote FIGURES about own speed, i discovered that my speed it's not normal.

I used the data of the poll, and i plot a grafic. I come out the "gauss curve". It describe the most of natural phenomena.. If someone is in the TOP of the curve, he/she is "normal". If someone if far away on left or right, is not normal.

Also from my personal experience, i discovered that many many tranlator work at "normal" speed, and THEIR peak speed is around 250 wph. Also if they have very know subject and very easy text.

The direct effect of this differences, are about the "feelings" of rate. I mean that very often people say "the same rate can be HIGH for a translator living in POOR country, and very LOW for a translator living in a RICH country". But one other element it's speed!

When i work with polish agency, my rate it's around "6 dinners/hour"

An other translator living in Poland could earn only "2-3 dinners/hour", simply because he/she translate at normal speed.

If i would return to Italy, my rate would be "2-3 dinner/hour". (because the cost of the life is higher)

I know a tranlator (i meet at conference) which works at my speed , with GERMAN rates... and he live in POLAND! he can earn "12-18 dinners/hors"

Daniele

[Edited at 2006-01-05 19:10]


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Adieu
Local time: 04:41
English to Russian
+ ...
Hehe Aug 14, 2007

up to 2.5 k words PER HOUR, russian to english or english to russian ))) or 20 000 words/100 000+ symbols per day.

Not quite sure if I should envy or sneer, though. You lot seem to have much more tolerant and calm jobs. Oh well... I'm still young, I guess.


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