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Pay per target word?
Thread poster: Tatsu02

Tatsu02  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:34
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Aug 15, 2013

Hi guys.

So I'm emailing with this company, and they would like to quote per target word.
(The rate itself is good = standard)
I find it strange, because I usually determine the pay by source word.
(I mean if I get paid per target word, won't I just try to translate into more words?)

Do you guys have any experience/opinion on target word count pay?
If so, please share and greatly appreciate it.

-Tatsu


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Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 01:34
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Possibly... Aug 15, 2013

In your language pair (and mine), it's something that is sometimes done. It's certainly not the norm, but with Asiatic texts sometimes it's not always clear what a "word" is in the western sense.

Not that I think it's a good idea; I always say that when the source is Chinese or Japanese, one character is one word, because Microsoft Word says so, and charge by source word that way.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Don't see a problem here Aug 15, 2013

Notwithstanding the specificities of Asian working languages, which I'm not qualified to comment on, in general I don't see the problem. Payment by target word (or page, or character, or other unit) is common for non-editable source texts like pdfs or jpgs. I love getting paid by target word because 1) my source languages always expand into English), and b) it removes the risk from my end of underestimating the source word count myself or of accepting an agency's underestimated source word count.

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Srini Venkataraman
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2012)
Tamil to English
+ ...
Me too Aug 15, 2013

I have this problem when translating from Tamil to English/Telugu to English. That is because the ratio is about 1.3- what I mean is Tamil or Telugu passage expands by 30% in the English version. If I am paid by the target count, then I can make more accurate earnings. Alternately the rate may have to be tweaked for this translation compared to the other direction: EN to TA or TE, instead of having uniform rate in both ways.

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Tatsu02  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:34
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Aug 15, 2013

Thanks guys for your posts.

My language pair (which I forgot to mention) is English and Japanese.
Usually it is assumed that one English word is equivalent to one Japanese letter.
Now I see how non-Asian speaker Westerners are more comfortable to consider based on English word (regardless whether it's target or source language).

They seem to be reputable and reliable company as well. And perhaps that matters much more.


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Sergio Juarez Garcia
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Japanese to Spanish
+ ...
I have always declined to be paid for target word in my pair... Aug 15, 2013

In my case, I translate Japanese, I am always asked to be paid for target word. But I have always declined it. Learning Japanese has meant to me thousands of hours of study, and I mean to be paid for it fairly. Besides, translating from Japanese is always more complex and difficult than translating, for example, from English. So, if you asked it of me, I would decline those offers.

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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:34
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Agree here, no problem Aug 15, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Notwithstanding the specificities of Asian working languages, which I'm not qualified to comment on, in general I don't see the problem. Payment by target word (or page, or character, or other unit) is common for non-editable source texts like pdfs or jpgs. I love getting paid by target word because 1) my source languages always expand into English), and b) it removes the risk from my end of underestimating the source word count myself or of accepting an agency's underestimated source word count.


Pricing by source word is easier and more transparent, as you agree a price, before you start.
I know for my language combination, I have a 10-15% difference in source-target word counts. I can take that into consideration, when quoting on a target word basis.

I have only ever come across it with non-editable files, but I would disagree with the notion of "just translating into more words". It is our job to present a text that accurately transfers the text into another language. Linguistically, it has to be of a high standard. Imho, that cannot be achieved by adding some unnecessary waffle.



[Edited at 2013-08-15 17:52 GMT]


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Adjusting the rate? Aug 15, 2013

Sergio Juarez Garcia wrote:

In my case, I translate Japanese, I am always asked to be paid for target word. But I have always declined it. Learning Japanese has meant to me thousands of hours of study, and I mean to be paid for it fairly. Besides, translating from Japanese is always more complex and difficult than translating, for example, from English. So, if you asked it of me, I would decline those offers.


Can't you simply adjust the target word rate to arrive at an appropriate revenue level for the project? It shouldn't be that hard for a client to understand that different rates are required in different directions, especially for Asian languages.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Notion of pumping up the word count is silly Aug 15, 2013

dianaft wrote:

I have only ever come across it with non-editable files,


Although I do have some clients who prefer to pay by target word, regardless of the editable/noneditable status.


but I would disagree with the notion of "just translating into more words". It is our job to present a text that accurately transfers the text into another language. Linguistically, it has to be of a high standard. Imho, that cannot be achieved by adding some unnecessary waffle.


Agree. Even if one tried, the effort involved in consciously thinking about how to artificially pump up the word count would far outweigh the negligible benefit, as opposed to just trying to create the best translation efficiently.
It would be self-defeating to even try.


[Edited at 2013-08-15 17:52 GMT] [/quote]


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Sergio Juarez Garcia
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Japanese to Spanish
+ ...
I don't really think that would help... Aug 15, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

Can't you simply adjust the target word rate to arrive at an appropriate revenue level for the project? It shouldn't be that hard for a client to understand that different rates are required in different directions, especially for Asian languages.



Yes, that's a possibility, too. But most of the agencies I have worked for are a bit rogue, and expect to pay their freelancers an English into Spanish rate (the lowest in the market) or even lower (omg!) for a Japanese into Spanish translation. That's why I am not flexible with them. Some agencies accept my rates, others don't. I don't really regret having lost some works and agencies for not adapting myself to their unacceptable rates. I just won't bend to their greed.

Anyway, the economic crisis is still here and there's other translators out there, so what I do is simply lower the price for source Japanese character and that would do almost always. And it is to my criterion the most reasonable thing to do...

[Edited at 2013-08-15 18:11 GMT]


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Anna Haxen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:34
Member (2005)
English to Danish
+ ...
No Aug 16, 2013

I would never accept payment per target word.

Firstly, in my language pair, two - or even three - English words may translate into one (long) Danish word, and the word count of the target file is always lower than that of the source file.

Secondly, the source words are the words that my brain must absorb and process, so it goes without saying that the number of source words must determine the pay.

If it were absolutely necessary to quote per target word, I would calculate a conversion factor based on previously translated files and quote a higher per word rate, as suggested below.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:34
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
No problem Aug 16, 2013

Payment based on the target is standard practice where I live, but it is usually per target normalized page (which would be a problem in Japanese, I agree). You just need to know the average number of words in the same text respectively in English and Japanese - it may differ considerably! I did the calculations (based on a sample of translations I had done - in both directions, where applicable) for my languages, and I found that while Czech, English and Bulgarian were about the same, French and Romanian were 20% longer on average, but in some cases, the difference went up to 40%.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:34
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I don't quite understand some of the replies Aug 16, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:
Can't you simply adjust the target word rate to arrive at an appropriate revenue level for the project? It shouldn't be that hard for a client to understand that different rates are required in different directions, especially for Asian languages.

Absolutely. Your target word rate doesn't have to be equal to your source word rate, in fact there must be relatively few pairs where it should be, and certainly mine isn't one of them.

What is our "per word rate (regardless of whether it's source or target)? It's the rate which, when multiplied by the number of words we can normally expect to achieve in one hour's continuous work (proofread), gives us the hourly income we see as fair and necessary for our labour. It's not some magic number we pick off a tree; it's not set in stone for every job we ever do; it doesn't include anything much over and beyond typing the new text (i.e. it covers opening and saving files etc, but not time-consuming DTP work).

You can come to any agreement with your client as long as you're both happy with it: per text, per hour, per source word, per target word, per character (with or without spaces), per line, per page, per thousand words... Just keep that hourly income in mind, and don't ever think of cheating the client. Cheats get found out in the end and reputations are becoming more and more important in this web-based world of ours.


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Sergio Juarez Garcia
Spain
Local time: 19:34
Japanese to Spanish
+ ...
I agree with that, but... Aug 16, 2013

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

You can come to any agreement with your client as long as you're both happy with it: per text, per hour, per source word, per target word, per character (with or without spaces), per line, per page, per thousand words... Just keep that hourly income in mind, and don't ever think of cheating the client. Cheats get found out in the end and reputations are becoming more and more important in this web-based world of ours.


I totally agree with you. In my case, it has proven satisfactory for the agency and me to apply a fixed rate for small works with a small number of words. In that case you shouldn't, say, charge 10 euros, it isn't worth the pain: you should charge a fair minimum rate, 30 or 40 euros. Again, the hourly charge can be an alternative, but if you cannot predict how many hours it will take you to translate the text, that can be a problem. Anyway, for more than half the works I do, it seems to me it could be profitable for the agency and me as I am faster than average translators with my work. It would not be suitable for really complex translation works, and some drops I have done come to my mind.


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LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:34
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
Credit where credit is due Aug 18, 2013

Sergio Juarez Garcia wrote:

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:

You can come to any agreement with your client as long as you're both happy with it: per text, per hour, per source word, per target word, per character (with or without spaces), per line, per page, per thousand words... Just keep that hourly income in mind, and don't ever think of cheating the client. Cheats get found out in the end and reputations are becoming more and more important in this web-based world of ours.



Actually it was Sheila who wrote that, though I certainly agree.


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