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Please help to explain a reputable client (IFI) a translator's daily working load
Thread poster: Olena Kushnerenko

Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
May 6, 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Please, help me to find some standards or conventions stating a stanard daily load of a translator. When I worked for the World Bank Project it was 7 pages a day (that is 2,000 words). Now, being included in a Project team with not less reputable international financial institution I face the situation when my remuneration is for 6 days of work under the project and I got 30,000-words Report for translation.
Yesterday I wrote to my Client that the scope of remuneration (6 workdays) and the scope of work did not match, today I need to substantiate why.

HELP!!!
This is very important because today they send to the IFI in question the next 2-year-long draft call off for approval.
Please help to quote the translator's daily loads along with some proofs so that they correct their translator's work loads.

Thank you,

Lena


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:42
Russian to English
Try translation agency websites May 6, 2016

I've come across websites of agencies (but I cannot recall which ones) that refer to how many pages / words per day translators typically translate. I suppose up to 10 pages is normal.

Anyway why are you so sure you cannot translate (if I understand correctly) 5,000 words per day? If you have say 10 or 12 hours per day, or if there is a lot of repetition and you use CAT, or if you know the subject very well etc. etc. it may be quite manageable.


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Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
5000 words per day is far more than 10 pages May 6, 2016

Dear Ilan,
This would be even a dumping policy if I agree to translate 20 pages a day instead of 10 pages. And I am not in so bad life context to agree to such business proposals. The thing is to find documentary evidence to prove that the client is wrong (and I am sure he is) calculating translator's working load as 5000 words per day. Thanks.


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xxxIlan Rubin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 02:42
Russian to English
Of course May 6, 2016

Olena Kushnerenko wrote:

5000 words per day is far more than 10 pages


Yes, I know. I didn't say it wasn't.



This would be even a dumping policy if I agree to translate 20 pages a day instead of 10 pages.


It wasn't clear (to me, anyway) that you are getting a daily rate, rather than a page rate. Of course if you are getting a daily rate then about 2,000 words is standard.

But if they have such a view I doubt you are going to change it with 'evidence'. Their view must be based on some facts or experience I assume.

So just turn them down...


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Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
To turn down? May 6, 2016

I dare not to turn down the EBRD. I prefer to find some reasonable arguments to persuade them to change the poilicy under this project

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ISHWER CHAND BANSAL
India
Member (2014)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Translator's daily work load May 6, 2016

Dear olena,

Daily work load depends on individual capacity also. More over, if client want quality Translation, it can't be on higher side. We should tell the clients about our's capacity in advance. In my case, I translate about 3000 words(10 page) daily. If my client ask for more, then I always tell him that this is not possible because I believe in QUALITY TRANSLATION ONLY.

In addition to above, if subject is interesting & favorite, then I always cross this limit also.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:42
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Please read this May 6, 2016

Extracted from a Special Report of the European Court of Auditors concerning translation expenditure incurred by the Commission, the Parliament and the Council:

"The productivity of the EU translation services is considered lower than in the private sector(3).

The productivity of the Commission DGT (approximately 5 pages a day) was slightly lower than the Parliament's translation service. The lower productivity can to some extent be explained by the Commission's role as initiator of the legislative process. The Council's productivity was systematically lower than that of the Commission and the Parliament, due to a high share of legislative documents requiring particular attention and highly fluctuating demand."
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A6-2007-0215&language=EN


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:42
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
More... May 6, 2016

The Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union considers that a translator can produce 6 standard pages per day.
http://cdt.europa.eu/CDT%20Call%20Documents/TM14/FAQs%20TM14_3.pdf


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Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Teresa! Thank you! That's it! May 6, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

The Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union considers that a translator can produce 6 standard pages per day.
http://cdt.europa.eu/CDT%20Call%20Documents/TM14/FAQs%20TM14_3.pdf


By the way what does the Translation Centre mean under a standard page? Here, in the CIS countries a standard page is 2000 symbols.


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Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Oh, I found a standard page definition at EC's website May 6, 2016

http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation/faq/index_en.htm
In 2015 output was 1.9 million pages. Of this, 73% was done in-house (1,459,476 pages) and the rest by contractors (532,156 pages). A page is 1 500 typed characters not including spaces.

Dear Teresa,

Again, thank you very much! You are my saviour!


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 23:42
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Olena May 6, 2016

Olena Kushnerenko wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

The Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union considers that a translator can produce 6 standard pages per day.
http://cdt.europa.eu/CDT%20Call%20Documents/TM14/FAQs%20TM14_3.pdf


By the way what does the Translation Centre mean under a standard page? Here, in the CIS countries a standard page is 2000 symbols.


“Standard page“ means a page of text comprising 1 500 characters, excluding spaces, in the source language
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation/workwithus/calls/open/gen11/specifications/gen11_en_specs_en.pdf

P.S. If need be, email me directly (I was an EU translator for 20 years, retired now)...

[Edited at 2016-05-06 13:02 GMT]


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Olena Kushnerenko
Ukraine
Local time: 01:42
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Dear Teresa, this is very kind of you May 6, 2016

Teresa Borges wrote:

Olena Kushnerenko wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

The Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union considers that a translator can produce 6 standard pages per day.
http://cdt.europa.eu/CDT%20Call%20Documents/TM14/FAQs%20TM14_3.pdf


By the way what does the Translation Centre mean under a standard page? Here, in the CIS countries a standard page is 2000 symbols.


“Standard page“ means a page of text comprising 1 500 characters, excluding spaces, in the source language
http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/translation/workwithus/calls/open/gen11/specifications/gen11_en_specs_en.pdf

P.S. If need be, email me directly (I was an EU translator for 20 years, retired now)...


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Danièle Horta  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:42
English to French
+ ...
250 words May 8, 2016

In France a standard page is 250 words.
10 pages a day is ok.


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:42
French to English
Page/word May 8, 2016

A "page" is not a suitable unit for any serious contractual negotiation. Some contractual douments are in two columns in tiny print. Other source documents may be in large print with more than single interline spacing. Words, or characters, are the only sensible basis on which any serious negotiation can be formed, I would have thought. A page is a meaningless unit unless words/characters have been specified to describe what a "page" actually means within the context of a particular agreement. Otherwises, you're negotiating rates on the basis of the length of a piece of string...

I'd contact your client and indicte the number of words you can do per day, taking into account :
- the nature of the text
- the complexity of the subject matter
- the level of expertise requried
- whether CAT tools are expected to be used

If in 6 days you are expected to do 30K words, then if you honestly think that, taking into account the elements I have listed, for example, you cannot match that rate of production, then you need to point that out to your client. Fast. It might be possible to continue on the project but to take on 20K words for example, thus around 3,300 words a day.

The client does not need to worry about whether your rate of 3K words a day, for example, is because you work more slowly than the next translator on the list, or whether it is because you have a family of 12 kids to look after. That's not his problems; it's yours. All the client needs to know is how much work you can take on and return, to a professional quality and by the deadline.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:42
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
@Olena May 10, 2016

I'm a bit late, but this was done long ago, before translation memories were invented and when Wang was the more common word processor. Dry-paper copiers were still a luxury and mimeographing machines were more common. I probably have to explain the context before everyone jumps me for such old and mechanical-sounding data.

Remember "time and motion studies"? The convention industry had one made in order to determine manpower, equipment and supply needs for given client population profiles, and it still remains their basis for determining number of translators and interpreters per congress, for instance.

The average number of words that can be reasonably translated in an hour is 500 for the UN combinations. "Proofreading" output for the same interval (proofreading was the assembly-line term in those days, but it referred to revision) was set in the range of 1,200-1,600. This presumed a practice of recruiting experienced professionals with fairly good typing speed, but the actual unit of motion was the keystroke.

I've seen rough variants on these figures - for instance, in the Canadian Translation Bureau - but they haven't substantially changed. Some things are clearer though: actual translation speed can't be measured, since the neurological process is lightning-fast BUT THE KEYSTROKE PUTS A PHYSICAL LIMIT TO IT. In sum, keyboard ergonomics and TM "repeats" are practically the only gains we have achieved, but anything short of 100% context matches still require at least the revision interval.

Interpreters have figured out workarounds for their own load, but all things considered, for both T&I you have to factor in 2 non-productive hours per 8-hour day because fatigue lowers productivity. (I.e., the breaks make us more productive).

The bottom line argument, if you may call it that, is that no one gets more than 24 hours in a day unless they live on Mars, and that only adds something like 30 minutes.

Hope it helps for the future.


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