Advice on a quote for ancient documents
Thread poster: Kristel Kiesel

Kristel Kiesel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:53
Italian to English
+ ...
Nov 16, 2009

I have been asked to put together a quote for the translation into English of some 400-600 year-old documents. However, the handwriting is enormously difficult to read in many places. I am certain that just reading the documents and typing up the words in their original language will take more time than translating them, and dealing with uncertainty in the text is liable to slow down translation considerably. I also expect that some amount of research will be required to properly understand any abbreviations, quirks in handwriting, vocabulary specific to the time period, etc. etc.

How do I go about putting together a quote for a job like this? There are about 2800 words. I am concerned that an hourly rate would result in an astronomical fee. Would it be unreasonable to charge by the hour for preparing the text, and then by the word for the translation? That would take the cost for the client down somewhat.

Thanks!

Kristie

[Edited at 2009-11-16 08:11 GMT]


 

KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 04:53
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Consider hiring someone trained in transcribing such texts Nov 16, 2009

I had a similar challenge not long ago, which I passed on when I was able to identify another translator with good resources to assist in reading the text. However, I also discovered to my surprise that there are still people in certain branches of library science who are trained to read old manuscripts like that, and they do it quite well at reasonable cost. You might check a few of your local universities or contact me privately, and I'll give you an address for someone associated with a young woman with these skills. (I do not know which languages she covers, so the contact may not be of any use. I know that for my purposes - 18th and 19th century handwritten German texts - she would have been perfect.)

 

Anne Bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 05:53
English to French
Agree with Kevin, hire somebody Nov 16, 2009

Not only will it take you too long, you may also make a lot of mistakes. If you are not successful finding someone in the local universities, you may also look for the nearest LDS Family History Center, and ask them if they know somebody experienced in this writing to help you (well, this person might be able to decipher and translate into English altogether).

 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 05:53
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Agree, expert help may be needed Nov 16, 2009

4-600 years means the documents are at least as old as Shakespeare's works and maybe one and a half times as old. Unless you have studied medieval Italian, this is probably going to be one hell of a job. It could very well be the most fun job you ever did, or a complete nightmare.

Personally, I would be interested in a job like this, so I'd try and take it out of curiosity - after I've had a look at the documents and decided I can handle them. This would probably take a lot of research, maybe a couple of visits to the library, maybe a couple of consultations with an expert, possibly having said expert transcribe and annotate the original.
The job is relatively small so I would hope I could get it done in a few days even with all the research. Given that, the financial aspect is not that critical.


 

Kristel Kiesel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:53
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On the lookout for someone to transcribe (or teach me how to do it!) Nov 20, 2009

Thank you all for your good advice. I am a little peeved with myself that I have not yet learned how to read this sort of text myself, and I agree that the best thing to do in this case is to hire someone to transcribe it for me. I have some good connections through my university that I am going to explore. The client seems not to be in a terrible hurry and I am willing to take all the time needed to research.

Andras, thank you for your offer. I have studied late medieval/early Renaissance Italian, but not Spanish. You sound as interested as I am, so I will keep you in mind if I need some help. There may be some interesting Kudoz questions in the works.

Thank you all!

Kristie


 

FarkasAndras
Local time: 05:53
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Spanish then Nov 20, 2009

So your original is medieval Spanish then?

I didn't mean to say I could help you out with this, just that if I were you I would try and take it on. I actually studied a bit of medieval Spanish at university but not nearly enough to presume I could be of any real help. I'd be interested to see the original and what you made of it, but my guesses at what the original says are probably as good as yours.


 

Kristel Kiesel  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:53
Italian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's in Latin Nov 20, 2009

FarkasAndras wrote:

So your original is medieval Spanish then?

I didn't mean to say I could help you out with this, just that if I were you I would try and take it on. I actually studied a bit of medieval Spanish at university but not nearly enough to presume I could be of any real help. I'd be interested to see the original and what you made of it, but my guesses at what the original says are probably as good as yours.


The texts are actually Latin, but written in Spain during the 15th-17th centuries, with definite Spanish influences from what I can make out. Sorry, I misread your comment earlier. Thank you for clarifying and for your encouraging advice on how to handle the job. It is definitely an interesting one.

Kristie



[Edited at 2009-11-20 11:41 GMT]


 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Advice on a quote for ancient documents

Advanced search







WordFinder Unlimited
For clarity and excellence

WordFinder is the leading dictionary service that gives you the words you want anywhere, anytime. Access 260+ dictionaries from the world's leading dictionary publishers in virtually any device. Find the right word anywhere, anytime - online or offline.

More info »
CafeTran Espresso
You've never met a CAT tool this clever!

Translate faster & easier, using a sophisticated CAT tool built by a translator / developer. Accept jobs from clients who use SDL Trados, MemoQ, Wordfast & major CAT tools. Download and start using CafeTran Espresso -- for free

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search