how to charge for a transcript into another language
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 21:57
English to German
Dec 2, 2008

I was approached by a client the other day who asked me how much time I would need to do an English transcript of some audio files which are in German and last 2 hours each and what my charge would be. As I have only ever translated written texts, I was unsure what to answer. In particular, I was reluctant to give a time frame as I don't know how many words one can say in an hour and thus how "big" one file would be. And I am unsure on how to proceed as well. To be accurate, is it necessary to first make a German transcript of the file and then do the actual translating or should I be able to translate what I hear directly into English? This is of course also important with regards to charges as a job like this would probably be best charged by the hour. But then, if I do a transcript in the source language first then everything would take me a lot of hours which the client would probably not be willing to pay. What is your experience with jobs like this? Please help.

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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:57
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Some considerations Dec 2, 2008

satranslations wrote:

I was approached by a client the other day who asked me how much time I would need to do an English transcript of some audio files which are in German and last 2 hours each and what my charge would be. As I have only ever translated written texts, I was unsure what to answer. In particular, I was reluctant to give a time frame as I don't know how many words one can say in an hour and thus how "big" one file would be. And I am unsure on how to proceed as well. To be accurate, is it necessary to first make a German transcript of the file and then do the actual translating or should I be able to translate what I hear directly into English? This is of course also important with regards to charges as a job like this would probably be best charged by the hour. But then, if I do a transcript in the source language first then everything would take me a lot of hours which the client would probably not be willing to pay. What is your experience with jobs like this? Please help.

First of all, you need to discuss with your client what is needed. I would normally expect to do a transcription first. It's a lot easier to straighten out mondegreens from a transcript than from a translation. And it's entirely possible that someone says something ambiguous and the client disagrees with someone else about how to understand it. So generally a transcription is appropriate. However, you may have a client who just wants to know (particularly after getting an estimate) something like "What are these Germans talking about?" and get an answer like "They're discussing nuclear power plants." In such a case, a transcript would not be necessary. But you should not put yourself in a position where you have to be sloppy to save your client money.
National Court Reporter Association programs require students to take down at least 225 words per minute. At this rate, a 2-hour tape would have about 27,000 words. However, the people may be speaking more slowly (or slightly faster, but not much). The tape may be hard to understand (because the conditions are less than ideal), meaning that it takes longer to transcribe. I don't recommend quoting a figure without hearing part of the tape.
Your client may be able to find a transcriber who will transcribe the files at less than your hourly rate, leaving the translation of the transcription to you. I've often worked under those conditions.


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LP Schumacher  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:57
Member
German to English
Charge per minute or hour of recording Dec 3, 2008

I usually quote per hour of recording, but many people charge per minute.

As Paul already mentioned, it will be very important to know exactly what your client expects you to deliver--that is, if you need to submit a German transcript in addition to the English translation. It's quite possible that they only want the English, but find out first (or just provide a quote for both options).

You'll also want to clarify whether the translation should be verbatim (with all the "umms" and false starts). The quality of audio will be a big factor in determining how long you will need for the job--and, consequently, how much you should charge. With good audio, you're still looking at around 8-9 hours of work per hour of recording--and that's just if you're doing a direct translation that does not require research. The word count can be anywhere from 8,000 - 12,000 per hour of recording (which sounds like a lot, but you'd be surprised how many words of spoken discourse you can translate in a day). It's still loads of work, though, and it often just pays off if it's something you really enjoy doing.

I would also recommend downloading Express Scribe, if you have not done so already. It will help you make the best use of your time when listening to audio files.


Here are some other forum posts dealing with the subject:

http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/30881-transcription_and_translation_how_to_quote_a_price.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/17962-transcribing_what_is_the_going_rate.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/114806-transcription_rates.html
http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/58416-how_to_charge_for_transcription_services.html


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