Translating strings - determining word count
Thread poster: Heiko Franz

Heiko Franz  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
English to German
Jun 24, 2014

Dear translators,

I am sitting on a translation project with several large documents (30k). Now, as it happens, the largest doc contains tons of strings, each comprising several words (up to 6 or 8). As strings usually take longer to translate, I wonder whether there is any useful tool to determine the total number of each and every single word - including those in strings. I am being paid by the word for this. The Tool I work with for this project is Wordfast Pro, but I doubt that it has any spec available to do this.
I only have .txml files but can export the target file into MS Word. I put many extra working hours into it and would like to have it reflected on my invoice. To understand the extra work, I made a comparison. The usual ratio between words-characters in a normal Word-doc text is 1:5.6, that is, around 1,500 words have 8,000 characters. The ratio of my exported Word file (the translated file) is 1:12.2, that is, around 12,400 words have 151,700 characters. That's a 100 percent increase.

I want to be fair to my client and are turning to you for suggestions, before giving them any figures. How would you handle this, or can you think of any other way of determining the word count of strings. Your suggestions are welcome!

Regard,
Heiko


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:49
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Use a CAT tool that is designed to process the format of your file Jun 24, 2014

It seems that your extra characters come from markup and/or placeholders in the software strings. Markup should never be translated and thus should not influence the wordcount in any way. Placeholders may or may not be treated as words; they do take time to process, but you'd have to negotiate this with your client (ideally before going ahead with the job). CAT tools like MemoQ have a special category for placeholders in their analysis, and specially identify and protect placeholders in the editor. It seems that Word's wordcount reflects the correct wordcount of your strings, but it also includes the markup thus inflating the character count. At any rate, 12 characters per word is not normal for English or any other language whose average is 5 to 6 characters per word.

[Edited at 2014-06-24 20:21 GMT]


 

Heiko Franz  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
@Mikhail Jun 24, 2014

No placeholders and markups, Mikhail. There are max 100 placeholders in the entire 150k characters document and no markups altogether. The strings I am to translate look like "ShowOrganizationChartByReportsTo" or "Rn_Recur_Attachment_Link Id". I also own a memoQ license, but the client sent me the documents as .txml files and I have to work with a remote TM.

I don't have a problem with translating a few strings each counting as one word only, but I haven't expected to face the double workload. So I couldn't negotiate beforehand...


 

Mikhail Kropotov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 03:49
Member (2005)
English to Russian
+ ...
Interesting! Jun 24, 2014

Heiko Franz wrote:
The strings I am to translate look like "ShowOrganizationChartByReportsTo" or "Rn_Recur_Attachment_Link Id".


Well, isn't that weird? Usually such strings are left untranslated.

However, each of these strings is obviously made up of multiple English words. It should be easy to prove to the client that it's the lack of spacing that makes such strings count as '1 word' for Word and CAT tools, but the workload is considerably higher. If you're absolutely sure that they do need translation, you should definitely state your case and ask for an increased fee.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:49
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Convert your per-word rate to a character rate for this job Jun 24, 2014

Heiko Franz wrote:
I want to be fair to my client.


A per-word rate assumes that the words are all of normal length. In this case, your "words" are abnormally long. My suggestion is to convert your normal per-word rate to a per-character rate, and then calculate the price on the character count.


 

Heiko Franz  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:49
Member (2008)
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
@Samuel+Mikhail Jun 24, 2014

Assuming that it's technically impossible to calculate the number of words contained in strings like these, this will then be the way to go.

Thanks to both of you to share your thoughts!


 

Orrin Cummins  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 09:49
Japanese to English
+ ...
Hmmm Jun 24, 2014

Are all unique words delineated by capital letters or underscores?

That's a lot of text but it seems like you could copy it into a Word document then do a find/replace with wildcards while matching case, then note the number of replacements it does.


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:49
German to English
With Samuel Jun 25, 2014

In Germany translations are frequently paid according to a standard line (Normzeile), which in my experience is usually 55 characters (including spaces). In MS Word you can check the word count/character count with or without spaces. , Take the entire number of characters with spaces, divide by 55 and you have a line count. Multiply that times the rate you intend to charge per NZ (Normzeile), and you have your invoice amount.

 


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