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Np payment for names and numbers - normal practice?
Thread poster: xxxLucyPatterso
xxxLucyPatterso
English
Feb 29, 2012

I recently noticed that the wordcount quoted by one of the agencies I work for was not the same as the wordcount in Word. For example, Word stated a document contained 1,500 words but my translation brief claimed it was 1,200.

When I asked why this was the case, it emerged that the agency does not include any numbers or names in their wordcount, as these "do not need to be translated".

Do you accept such terms when agreeing on translation jobs? It seems a bit of a petty thing to do, but a great way of cutting costs!

I do not think I will accept this in future when working on PDF documents, at the very least.


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Paula Hernández
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not unless Feb 29, 2012

I honestly would not accept such a job, but I would let the agency know that then I would not type in any names or numbers (not even bother doing the copy source!)

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Michal Glowacki  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:15
Member (2010)
English to Polish
+ ...
Spaces as well Feb 29, 2012

I think that's a bit too much, all the more so with PDFs. The solution, as suggested earlier, is simple - no payment for numbers or names, no numbers or names in the target. A similar story once happened to a colleague. In Poland translations are often charged per 1800 characters including spaces. Once a colleague was approached by a client, who refused to pay for the spaces, claiming they don't require any work. After receiving the translation without any spaces at all they somehow saw the error in their ways.

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Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 12:15
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
It is quite common and justified requirement, Feb 29, 2012

especially if a document contains many tables with numbers and non-translated abbreviations. If a source document is provided in .doc format, I deem it fully acceptable. Alternatively, a client can ask a translator to translate only headings of tables.

Of course, excluding numbers contained in sentences from wordcount is absurd. On the other hand, a (direct) client has right not to be charged for non-translated table columns, as they can represent a considerable portion of entire text (especially in technical translations there are often pages and pages of non-translated tables). If such requirement is made by an agency, I am usually rather suspicious if they will provide their client with the same allowance, but, still, the requirement is justified and accepted.

However, I love clients who do not ask me to do so:-)

LucyPatterson wrote:

I recently noticed that the wordcount quoted by one of the agencies I work for was not the same as the wordcount in Word. For example, Word stated a document contained 1,500 words but my translation brief claimed it was 1,200.

When I asked why this was the case, it emerged that the agency does not include any numbers or names in their wordcount, as these "do not need to be translated".

Do you accept such terms when agreeing on translation jobs? It seems a bit of a petty thing to do, but a great way of cutting costs!

I do not think I will accept this in future when working on PDF documents, at the very least.


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Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 12:15
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
My last post related to general practice, Feb 29, 2012

not to your specific case. In your case, the agency is simply trying to squeeze you as much as possible and I would not only refuse the job, but stop working for the agency as it obviously has no regards for your work.

LucyPatterson wrote:

I recently noticed that the wordcount quoted by one of the agencies I work for was not the same as the wordcount in Word. For example, Word stated a document contained 1,500 words but my translation brief claimed it was 1,200.

When I asked why this was the case, it emerged that the agency does not include any numbers or names in their wordcount, as these "do not need to be translated".

Do you accept such terms when agreeing on translation jobs? It seems a bit of a petty thing to do, but a great way of cutting costs!

I do not think I will accept this in future when working on PDF documents, at the very least.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Already for a decade! Feb 29, 2012

Ever since agencies started using Trados over a decade ago, most of them haven't paid for the numbers. However, names are part of the text and trying to count them to reduce the translation expense would increase the overhead in other senses.

It is like trying to weed your green garden with a bulldozer. It's best to save time and effort by simply paying the translators that 1% extra.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
German to English
+ ...
In a word... Feb 29, 2012

no. I have never come across this request.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How do they identify names? Feb 29, 2012

LucyPatterson wrote:
it emerged that the agency does not include any numbers or names in their wordcount, as these "do not need to be translated".


I agree with Vladimir that there can be justification for not charging for numbers if (1) there are loads of them all together and (2) they don't need any formatting at all (and that often is not the case where decimals or thousands are involved).

But exactly what do they mean by names? The first word of every sentence has a capital letter - is it excluded? And what about names with recognised forms in the target language? Should I, as a French to English translator, leave "Jeux Olympiques" and "Union européenne" in the French form? These are understandable in English, although some are not (e.g. the WHO is the OMS in French).

This is clearly a ridiculous idea, though it might be worth going along with their terms just once to see what they think of the result!

Sheila


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Vladimír Hoffman  Identity Verified
Slovakia
Local time: 12:15
Member (2009)
English to Slovak
+ ...
I use a nice trick Feb 29, 2012

to cope with decimals and thousands in numbers (provided the numbers are in tables and that I am not required to leave them):
1. Colour highlight (double-strike/double underline/otherwise uniquely mark) area of the table where numbers are to be changed.
2. Do mass replacement (CTRL+F) of highlighted (double-struck etc.) commas (separator of thousands) with (one) space character.
3. Do mass replacement of highlighted (double-struck etc.) decimal points with comma.
4. Remove formatting you have made in the step 1

Actually, I made simple macro that enables me to reduce needed time to few seconds. Original procedure is made for conversion from English to Slovak number formatting, but it can be easily adapted to Slovak-English or any other number format. Enjoy it!

Sheila Wilson wrote:

they don't need any formatting at all (and that often is not the case where decimals or thousands are involved).

Sheila


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:15
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Living in the Matrix Feb 29, 2012

I think a lot of companies try to increase their profit margins (and who can blame them for that) by implementing these kinds of plans without a real understanding of the nature of translation work. Charging by the word or by the "number" in this case is just a convenient way of agreeing on a price. Technically speaking, each word does not cost the same amount of effort for us to translate and the rate we charge (and therefore the total cost of the project) should reflect the average difficulty of the text as a whole. If I charge .15 for the word "the" and .15 for the word "intercontinental" and .15 for the number "234.56" for a total of .45, that does not mean that translating the word "the" and the word "intercontinental" took the same amount of effort and by removing my need to translate one of them, my work is cut in half.

If the company decided that it wanted to only pay 40% for "easy" words like "the" and 0% for numbers, they may try to get me to charge .21 instead of .45. However, the true cost in terms of effort for me could be .02 for the word "the", ".02" for the number and .41 for the word "intercontinental" = .45.

In other words, the overall difficulty and therefore the overall cost for the project will be exactly the same regardless of how many "words", "numbers" or "names" they choose to eliminate or add to a "matrix" and so will the final price (which is something that I decide because it is my business) and if this final price fits within their "price matrix" than so be it.


[Edited at 2012-02-29 15:49 GMT]


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Mark Cole  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:15
Polish to English
+ ...
Follow Michal's example Feb 29, 2012

Just translate the text and omit all numbers and names.

Don't even put in markers such as [name]/[number] either, because that would count as a word. Let the client put all the names and numbers in the right place themselves so that they can decide for themselves whether it's worth paying for those extra 300 words.


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Diana Coada  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Common request from agencies! Feb 29, 2012

I remember reading about a well-known translator in the USA if I am not mistaken. When he received a similar request, he sent in a translation along these lines:

''Dear Mr. (see original),

I am writing on behalf of (see original)...''

Needless to say, the client got the message.


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Kaiya J. Diannen  Identity Verified
Australia
Member (2008)
German to English
That's not how I work Feb 29, 2012

I have heard of agencies setting terms like these, but the agencies I work with don't do this, and simply put, I would not work with an agency or outsourcer that did.

For one thing, in my language pair, numbers often have to be changed (comma vs. decimal point, moved in relation to a currency or percent symbol).

For another, even if a name is non-translatable, it may have to be moved around in the sentence for grammatical reasons. It may be possible to "type around it", but it may need to be cut and pasted, or it may even be retyped - whatever is most convenient for the translator. But it certainly should be counted as part of the text if it appears in a sentence.

As with all rules, there are a few exceptions, one being headings, as I think someone mentioned. Another might be if the name shows up as part a list of names that requires absolutely no work on my part. If I can tell with 99% certainty that a rather long list of names will not need change or review, I will let the client know, and give them the option of not paying for these words. However, if they don't pay, I don't review. Simple as that.


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Noni Gilbert
Spain
Local time: 12:15
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Proofreading numbers... Feb 29, 2012

... is one of my least favourite activities, so I would love not to have to check through all those commas and decimal points.

I jest, of course.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:15
Member (2008)
French to English
We're paid for using our skill, not just words and numbers Feb 29, 2012

The fact is that names and numbers do need to be translated. Not exactly a change in meaning but the presentation is different in different languages.

Some names have to be translated and some don't - it's a translator's skill to know which and when. Even though the translator hasn't translated a name, he still used his linguistic knowledge to decide not to, given the language pair and situation, so he should be paid for using that skill.


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