word count madness
Thread poster: Kay Fisher

Kay Fisher
German to English
+ ...
Nov 19, 2002

Living and working in Austria, I\'ve adopted the local practice of quoting and billing per line of 55 characters.

Proz jobs and, I suspect, overseas agencies use a word count. German of course is a long-worded language,

This has probably been re-hashed several times, but here\'s a mathematical example. I calculated these for two typical text segments.

English-> German

49 lines @ €1.45 = €71.05

word count 437

€71.05 / 437 -> €0.16/word

German -> English

50 lines @1.45 = €72.50

word count 338

€72.50 / 338 -> €0.21/word

A lot of the D->En or En->D jobs I\'ve seen advertised have been advertised at the same rate. No consideration seems to be given to the large no. of compound terms in German.

So: the question is, how do German -> English translators deal with this when they are forced to quote per word instead of per line?

I realise the discussion is partly academic because obviously its up to the translator to agree rate per word or line with the customer before starting, it would just be interesting to know the conventions.

Am I missing something in word-count convention? The word counts given above are for similar documents and are those estimated by MS Word. It seems to me I have nothing to gain by quoting per word.



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Giuliana Buscaglione  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:05
Member (2001)
German to Italian
+ ...
About 8 words per line Nov 19, 2002

Hi Kay,

I went through this \"high maths\" (for me) myself and came up to an average of 8.8 wrd per line (55 strokes incl. spaces) GER>IT, but up to an average of 7.5 - 7.9 wrd / line GER>EN. I think you have noticed that the MS Word count shows different \"values\" as to strokes(Zeichen mit Leerzeichen) & words (less words than strokes). My quote is based on my rate per line : 8.8 wrd = rate per word. The word count is strange: MS Word gives a figure, SDLX another, Trados another one (I have tried with many files).... so I use kbytes (*.txt) : 55 strokes (the norm line) x 8.8 (average no. of words per line for my pair).

À propos of payment per word, a colleague has raised a good point on a ML I am in: why should the typing of the word \"and\" be honored the same (example) Eur 0.16 we are paid for typing \"any-long-difficult-technical-term\"?! It\'s a rethorical question , we know why all tend to pay per source word (some reasons being very acceptable though). Still, even a payment per target word wouldn\'t solve this dilemma....

Tja, higher rates per source word is a good solution...


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Kay Fisher
German to English
+ ...
thanks Nov 20, 2002

Tayfun: The lines I quoted above were lines of 55 characters (or strokes) based on the word character count including spaces. Thanks, I should have put that in my original post.

The point is that there are fewer words per 1000 characters/strokes in German than in English (can\'t speak for Italian, and I hate to even think how these things are calculated for Japanes, Arabic etc.), because German words are longer.

Most of the quotes I have seen based on word count are the same e.g. €0.10 for D->En and €0.10 for En->D, from the same translator. Based on character / standard line count, translators offering prices the same in both directions are underselling themselves when they translate from D->En.

(Actually this should only apply to agencies or true bilinguals: don\'t want to open the old debate about only translating into your mother tongue).

Giuliana - you are of course correct about \"and\" or a \"long technical word\", however I base my quotes on the perceived level of difficulty. The more technical a text (and therefore the the more \"long technical words\" it is likely to contain) the more I charge per standard German line of 55 characters.

I also find your point about different software producing different word counts interesting, which was why I was wondering if I had missed something on the word count front and, in fact, people are charging €0.12 (or whatever) per standard word of (say) 6 characters, in which case we get back to chartacter/stroke count.

Enough maths for this morning.


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