Word-count for chinese
Thread poster: Solomon Wright

Solomon Wright  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:33
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Oct 26, 2006

I have a document in Chinese, to be set as part of a translation exercise. I need to prune it so that it is roughly equivalent to a 1000 word English document; as I have no knowledge of the Chinese language or writing system, my only way of doing this is by using MS Word's wordcounting tool. Can anyone tell me roughly how many characters (as counted by Word) would equate to a 1000 word text in English?

Or put more simply, when you translate from Chinese to English, what is the ratio of Chinese characters to English words (again, as counted by Word just in case the figure varies - I haven't a clue...)

Many thanks
Solomon


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Abbatrans
Local time: 08:33
Ratio Chinese characters to one English word Oct 26, 2006

This is a really interesting question, and I would love to hear about other translators' practices and experiences.

I have recently come across the same problem when quoting to a client. At the time being I went from the basis of 2.5 characters per word. The somewhat coarse and arbitrary logic behind it: A large proportion of Chinese words (but by far not all!!!) are made up of two characters. "To be on the safe side" I added 0.5 character.

Drawback: Sometimes the word are made up of more characters. Sometimes there are single character words. Sometimes 2 or 4 Chinese characters express what we have to say in half to a full sentence.

Is there a common practice out there?


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:33
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Our method... Oct 26, 2006

Hi,

I would also be interested in hearing other Chinese translator's methods of calculating the ratio:)

I don't think there is an exact science that can be used in every case because it really does depend on the subject material. Especially for technical or chemical translations where, for just one English word there could be as many as 8+ characters.

That would make an interesting competition. Who can find the most Chinese characters that represent one English word:)

The method we use that generally works out close enough, most of the time is to assume that there are 25% less English words than Chinese characters.

Therefore for a 1,000 word English text, making the calculation on the Chinese character side, there would be about 1,325 Chinese characters.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Mark


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Denyce Seow  Identity Verified
Singapore
Local time: 23:33
Member (2004)
Chinese to English
My ratio Oct 26, 2006

The ratio I work with is 1.5 Chinese characters to 1 English word. I actually know of people who work with 1.2:1.

Chinese Concept said:
That would make an interesting competition. Who can find the most Chinese characters that represent one English word.


Interesting! Let's start a forum topic on this. I'm interested to find out too...

Denyce


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 02:33
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Done:) Oct 26, 2006

Denyce Seow wrote:
Interesting! Let's start a forum topic on this. I'm interested to find out too...
Denyce


Great idea, done:) Here's the link:

http://www.proz.com/topic/58368

Mark


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anistone  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 23:33
Chinese to English
+ ...
Normal practice Nov 1, 2006

here in a translation agency in China:

1.35:1~1.8:1

Usually, we take 1.5:1


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Solomon Wright  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:33
Portuguese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all Nov 1, 2006

Thank you for all the help everyone!
S


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lefoque
United States
Local time: 11:33
French to English
+ ...
Word-count for Chinese Nov 1, 2006

I'm not sure what many Chinese translators do but I know of at least one Japanese translator that charges per character whether or not the word is made up of one character or more. Perhaps that is a good baseline.

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Tony Wang
Local time: 23:33
English to Chinese
I have detailed analysis on this issue. Jan 18

We frequently get asked by the clients regarding the ratio between English words and the Chinese character counts. Our experience is that 1000 Chinese characters will be translated into about 600-700 English words. I compiled a special page about the this issue. Click to read.

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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:33
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
1.5-1.6:1 Jan 18

anistone wrote:

here in a translation agency in China:

1.35:1~1.8:1

Usually, we take 1.5:1


Just about where I am too: I quote 1.5 or 1.6 to 1 (i.e. about 1500 or 1600 Chinese characters per 1000 English words).


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chym77
China
Local time: 23:33
Member (2013)
Chinese to English
+ ...
based on source texts Jan 18

My quote is usually based on the source text. If the source text is in Chinese, it will be based on the word count of Chinese characters. It is difficult to quote on the word count of the translation, as the ratio of Chinese characters to English words probably ranges from 2 to 1.5 or whatever. It is more comfortable for me to quote on the source text. You can find the total word count of Chinese characters/English words at the bottom left side of a Word 2016 document. So easy!

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