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450 pages proofing in 5 hours?
Thread poster: Fred Lessing

Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
Aug 12, 2005

I was just offered a job of 70000 words and quoted for this 50 hours (at a productivity rate of 1400 words per hour). The customer came back at me saying that their in-house translator takes 5 hours to review 450 pages of car manuals (average 100 words page), and they seem to think I'm a crook or something. Is such a productivity maybe normal under certain circumstances? The job implies reading a target PDF against the source PDF, ensure correct terminology using two different online glossaries, and assumes proper target language (a car manual for a renowned car brand). I'm feeling a bit at a loss here and don't even know what to tell the client

Fred Lessing,
Sintra, Portugal


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Tsu Dho Nimh
Local time: 06:30
English
45 seconds per page! Aug 12, 2005

Fred Lessing wrote:

I was just offered a job of 70000 words and quoted for this 50 hours (at a productivity rate of 1400 words per hour). The customer came back at me saying that their in-house translator takes 5 hours to review 450 pages of car manuals (average 100 words page), and they seem to think I'm a crook or something. Is such a productivity maybe normal under certain circumstances?


Auto manuals are light on text, and the in-house translator is undoubtedly familiar with the material (probably way too familiar!) but that is only 45 seconds per page!

Only if their in-house translator is:
A) Superman
B) Not doing a thorough job


I'd stick to your estimate ... you aren't familiar with the product, and you will do a much better job because you come at it with "fresh eyes".


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Jana Teteris  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:30
Latvian to English
+ ...
Cloud cuckoo land Aug 12, 2005

Sounds like the client lives in cloud cuckoo land! Makes me wonder why they want to outsource the job, if they have someone who can proofread 10 times faster than you.

FYI, the industry standard is 1,000 words per hour, which usually averages out as 4 pages (although this job has less words per page). You're certainly not a crook and in fact, I'd said your quote is very generous.

Good luck!
Jana


[Edited at 2005-08-12 19:34]


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cendrine marrouat
English to French
+ ...
I think some clients need to be told off Aug 12, 2005

Hello!
I don't normally proofread but I honestly think that you are only human and that you can handle so much in an hour. It doesn't seem realistic at all to me! It's crazy, I should say!
Good luck!


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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
I would like to meet such a supertranslator Aug 12, 2005

Hi Fred,
This has been discussed before, but I cannot find the thread. Anyway, a while ago someone asked a similar question, and many of us provided information on our "output". I have been translating for eight years and I can proofread a maximum of 28-30 pages per day (I am talking about eight hours here), provided the text is realtively well written and I am familiar with the subject; this would be about 875-930 words per hour, quite far from the 1,400 your customer's in-house translator can tackle. Other colleagues provided similar information. I wish there were guidelines for these averages somewhere, to help you support your claim, but I have never come across them. Maybe other colleagues will know better, and let's wait and read what they have to say.

In short, I honestly think there is no way to complete the job, professionally and in the terms you describe, in the time that your customer says his in-house tanslator can do it. IMHO this is a tactic to make you feel bad and lower your rate so... stick to your guns, and good luck!

[Edited at 2005-08-12 19:36]


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Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
1400 words not a problem Aug 12, 2005

I didn't explain well: 1400 words an hour is not a problem for me. But 70000 words in 5 hours is. As I have to read twice this amount (source and target), that means 140.000 words in 5 hours, 28.000 words per hour!!!

Fred


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:30
German to English
Sampling only possible Aug 12, 2005

Fred,

There was indeed a thread on the topic of revision recently, and the throughput rates quoted there varied widely. It's difficult to give any ballpark figures, but based on my own experience of revising upwards of a million words (or more) a year, I'd say that your 50 hours is a pretty reasonable estimate there, although I must say that I'd hate to revise for 50 hours on the trot (50 working hours, I mean). However, I'd ring-fence this with the qualification that:

- I'd have to know and trust the translators involved, meaning that the function of my revision would to catch the "last 1%". If the translator were an unknown quality, I'd double those 50 hours straight away.

- On the same basis, I would assume that the translator(s) used the defined terminology consistently, and all I would do on that score would be to catch obvious outliers, plus perhaps some sampling.

So assuming that you don't actually know the translator(s), and you're actually going to have to do a more rigorous check for terminological consistency, my advice would be to tell the client either a) that the 50 hours would only allow for sampling, and b) that you reserve the right to notify the client after, say, the first 5 hours that an estimated xx additional hours will be necessary, and that the client will accept and pay for that additional time without question.

Otherwise, to be perfectly honest, I'd turn down that job without the slightest regret.

Robin

PS:
"The customer came back at me saying that their in-house translator takes 5 hours to review 450 pages of car manuals (average 100 words page)"

That's not a review, that's a cursory glance. Doesn't sound like a particularly serious customer to me.


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Fred Lessing
English to Portuguese
TOPIC STARTER
To RobinB Aug 12, 2005

No, the customer wants a full and proper review of 450 pages (roughly 45000 words) in 4 hours, and - as I said - including proofing against source and two online glossaries.

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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:30
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Proofreading 9,000 words per hour Aug 12, 2005

Nobody can proofread 9,000 words in an hour, even if the translation is perfect. Proofreading 70,000 words in 50 hours is quite steep already. If the proofreading job turns out to be an editing job, you'll be in trouble.

Regards,
Gerard

RobinB answered the question far better.

[Edited at 2005-08-12 19:54]


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PAS  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:30
English to Polish
+ ...
No problem Aug 12, 2005

I can proofread 900 pages in three hours, if need be.

What do you mean quality??!!

Don't feel bad at all. Just wish the client luck with finding a person who will take this on.

Pawel Skalinski


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xxxsarahl
Local time: 05:30
English to French
+ ...
Nice try indeed Aug 12, 2005

My question to the client: if you have someone in-house -hence thoroughly familiar with the material- who can proofread at lightning speed, why aren't you using him?

This sounds very much like "the dog ate my homework." It has been used a million times before but they still expect us to fall for it.


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Ziad Marzouka  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:30
English to Arabic
+ ...
it would take me 100 hours just to read that! Aug 12, 2005

Are they kidding or what? what do these people think we are? I won't be able to just read that number of pages in 5 hours! Clients can be unbelievable sometimes! In my opinion they should offer comfortable deadlines if they seek good work quality.

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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:30
I had not thought about this one... Aug 12, 2005

sarahl wrote:

This sounds very much like "the dog ate my homework." It has been used a million times before but they still expect us to fall for it.


Thanks for the laugh, Sarahl, If I ever am late with the delivery of a translation, I will tell the client "the dog ate my translation", sounds as plausible as the 70K words in 50 hours!


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xxx@caduceus
United States
Local time: 06:30
English to German
+ ...
I got a real good laugh out of this one Aug 12, 2005

That's an absolutely ridiculous claim! At best you could call that speed reading, but definitely not proofreading.

Don't even worry about such a client. Actually, you should avoid working for someone who has such preposterous perceptions about the work we do. They obviously don't understand anything about translation and its related areas and would probably turn out to be a major pain.

Just tell them to go ahead and find that special speed reading proofreader and to let you know how it all worked out for them.

[Edited at 2005-08-13 03:24]


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cendrine marrouat
English to French
+ ...
Proofreading the same as speed dating? Aug 12, 2005

Reading the last post made me realize that we are turning into machines. I can't help making a parallel with speed dating. In 7 minutes, you have to talk to someone and decide if you are interested or not. We should tell the clients that we are speed-translators. In 7 minutes, we could translate 1000 words and proofread 10000 words. What do you think?

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