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Price per word, source or target?
Thread poster: jssnowden

jssnowden  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
French to English
+ ...
Dec 17, 2015

Hi all,

I quote my clients in price per source word, and judging by the agencies I have worked with, this is also the case for them. However, curiosity got the better of me and I was wondering whether there were any scenarios in which you would, potentially, invoice a client in price per target word?

If you have a particularly strong line of thought on this (either way) it would be good to hear from you, although I am keen to see for which reasons you might do this!

Thanks,
Jonny


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
Member (2008)
Italian to English
$$$$$$$$ Dec 17, 2015

If, perchance, there ever existed the (albeit) remote possibility that I would be paid per target word, as a person who carries out translation work for the benefit of end users who are unable to use my native language as a working tool for use by themselves, I would make every endeavour to see to it that my completed translations went out of their way to consist of as great a number of words as possible.

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:23 GMT]


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jssnowden  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Absolutely! Dec 17, 2015

Tom in London wrote:

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:17 GMT]


Ha, yes that is what I had thought.


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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:21
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
I am frequently paid by target word Dec 17, 2015

the_matador wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:17 GMT]


Ha, yes that is what I had thought.


I am frequently paid by target word in cases where the source text is an unreadable PDF. I agree there is theoretically an incentive to bloat my word count but I pay attention to the larger incentive which is to deliver quality.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:21
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Happens often Dec 17, 2015

There are regions where the pricing is not per source nor word - but per target page.

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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:21
Member
Italian to English
Depends on circumstances Dec 17, 2015

Tim Friese wrote:

I am frequently paid by target word in cases where the source text is an unreadable PDF.


I work in medical translation, and a lot of work consists of scanned patient notes and tests in PDF format (the idea scenario would be for the client to convert them, but that's a story for another time).

Tim Friese wrote:

I agree there is theoretically an incentive to bloat my word count but I pay attention to the larger incentive which is to deliver quality.


Agree - the time needed to think up creative ways to swell your word count would surely cancel out any potential profit, as well as probably distorting the end message. I work from Italian to English, and my source texts are generally longer than the corresponding target texts, so it makes sense to charge per source word. Plus the customer knows up-front how much the job will cost, which is another benefit.




[Edited at 2015-12-17 15:16 GMT]


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jssnowden  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Dec 17, 2015

Agreed - I understand that in certain scenarios this might be the case (such as with the afore-mentioned medical notes).

It's good to see that this is an entirely suitable method (ppw/ST) of invoicing. I definitely agree that by adapting a TT creatively you could end up deforming the source message.

Many thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments.

Jonny


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:21
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
The norm here is target page Dec 17, 2015

and I don't think anybody makes their translations deliberately longer - I certainly don't. Abroad as you said - when the source cannot be counted, which is quite often. In some language pairs, the target will be naturally longer - so if per source word, I increase my rates accordingly.

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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:21
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Target with my usual agency Dec 17, 2015

Most of my translation work is for an agency in a small European country and the payment is calculated from the size of the target text. In my case this has the advantage that the calculation method is the same whether I translate from German (which typically gives an English translation with about 10-15% more words) or from French (which results in about the same word count).
Also: the rate is not per word but per standard line of 55 characters. The total number of chargeable characters in the translation is the total of non-space characters plus one character per word (MS Word can easily give these counts), so the count, in effect, assumes that the words are separated by single spaces.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:21
Member
English to French
Choose a baseline rate and stick to it Dec 17, 2015

Whether it is source, target, character, page or vowel, there are bridges to work out any rate per any unit. The unit per se is irrelevant, what we earn per hour/month/year is.

Example:
I charge 100 euros/source word as an EN>FR translator.
I know that one word in a standard EN text has about 5.7 characters, that one EN page is made of 1500 characters, 250 words, 35 lines or 67 "e" letters, that FR inflates by about 18% compared to EN, etc. You get the picture (multiplication factors without any guarantee). I could even calculate a rate per ton of source words if I knew how much the average EN word weighs.

If I want to charge by target word, I should therefore charge 100/118 euro, or 85 euros (FR), per target word. Because I spend EXACTLY the same time translating 100 source words or translating 118 target words.

Therefore:
EN>FR translators who charge 0.1 euro/source word earn the same per hour as FR>EN translators who charge 0.085 euro/source word - save a few pennies one way or the other.

We sell our time.

Philippe


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 22:21
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Depends! Dec 17, 2015

In general, for editable file formats I charge per source word and for non-editable formats per target word, but over the years I have also charged per character and per project…

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Preston Decker  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:21
Chinese to English
Yes Dec 17, 2015

Tim Friese wrote:

the_matador wrote:

Tom in London wrote:

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:17 GMT]


Ha, yes that is what I had thought.


I am frequently paid by target word in cases where the source text is an unreadable PDF. I agree there is theoretically an incentive to bloat my word count but I pay attention to the larger incentive which is to deliver quality.

I am occasionally as well, usually also for non-live PDFs. I almost prefer this, as the formula I use for calculating my rate per target English word is quite conservative (i.e. I make sure it's on the high side, just in case), so I may even make a bit more per hour than I do per source Chinese character.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 22:21
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Is this a professional approach? Dec 17, 2015

Surprise, surprise:

Tom in London wrote:

If, perchance, there ever existed the (albeit) remote possibility that I would be paid per target word, as a person who carries out translation work for the benefit of end users who are unable to use my native language as a working tool for use by themselves, I would make every endeavour to see to it that my completed translations went out of their way to consist of as great a number of words as possible.

...


Professional translators – despite their freemail addresses or the rates practiced in their region being several times lower than in some certain countries - make every endeavour to deliver a quality job and not to rip their client.

(Don’t take it personally, Tom… but it feels so sweet, can’t help it)


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:21
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Perhaps it's a U.S. thing, but... Dec 17, 2015

... I have ALWAYS been paid by the target word for 22 years. I've never been asked to charge by the source word count.


Tom in London wrote:

If, perchance, there ever existed the (albeit) remote possibility that I would be paid per target word, as a person who carries out translation work for the benefit of end users who are unable to use my native language as a working tool for use by themselves, I would make every endeavour to see to it that my completed translations went out of their way to consist of as great a number of words as possible.

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:23 GMT]


[Edited at 2015-12-17 17:26 GMT]


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TranslateThis  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
No time for such silly tactics Dec 17, 2015

Tom in London wrote:
I would make every endeavour to see to it that my completed translations went out of their way to consist of as great a number of words as possible.

You get the idea

[Edited at 2015-12-17 14:23 GMT]




Of course YOU wouldn't, Tom, but some might.

I work with scanned files, so charging per target word is usually the best approach. As far as I am concerned, no professional would intentionally pad the word count. As others have pointed out, it is not worth the effort and it could potentially cost you a client. I have encountered this phenomenon only once when I was proofreading someone else's translation. It was so exaggerated that I had to inform the PM. In the end, the translator was paid based on the word count of the edited file, which was about 20% lower and I don't think the agency ever sent him another pdf file again.


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