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Poll: Do you usually charge per source or per target word?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 03:48
SITE STAFF
Jan 22, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you usually charge per source or per target word?".

This poll was originally submitted by Caterina Esteva. View the poll results »



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David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 12:48
German to English
+ ...
Other Jan 22, 2015

Target line of 55 keystrokes.

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Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:48
Member (2008)
English to Italian
it depends.. Jan 22, 2015

on the client.

most of the are charged per source word, others prefer to be charged by target page, others per target line...
No problems with that, as long as I get what I consider fair.


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Nadine Epstein  Identity Verified
Israel
Member (2013)
Hebrew to Spanish
+ ...
It depends on the client's location Jan 22, 2015

In Israel, local agencies pay per translation unit that is 250 words in the target language (final document). The rest of agencies I work with abroad pay per source word.

The same, in most of the cases the client is the one who decides to pay per source or per target, not me


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 11:48
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Per source word Jan 22, 2015

I prefer to charge my clients per source word, but (there is always a "but") one of my clients (a Portuguese media group) asks to be charged per target character and I have no problem with that…

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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Other Jan 22, 2015

Per target normalised page. But as others said before, it depends on the client - I also have "source word", "target word", and "source equivalent word" clients (I have never really understood what the last one means). And the target NP may be calculated in two different manners. And a non-negligible number of jobs where a lump-sum remuneration is negotiated. A total chaos.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Source word Jan 22, 2015

Average to low basic rate, BUT no fuzzy or rep discounts (unless I happen to feel like it).

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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:48
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
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Source word Jan 22, 2015

If you charge by target word, then you effectively have an incentive to pad out the target text, thus impairing the quality of your own product.

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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:48
Turkish to English
+ ...
Target word Jan 22, 2015

I charge by whatever unit the client wishes and I note that I charge more often per target word than source word. Most frequently, though, I set a fixed fee in advance.

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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
I'd rather not Jan 22, 2015

Never really grasped why we're not paid by the hour.

Companies manage to pay bricklayers by the hour rather than by the brick, and to allow for some being quicker than others, so why not translators?

It's no wonder we're not taken seriously or treated like professionals when we charge piecemeal as though all words were equal and no skill was required.


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:48
Turkish to English
+ ...
Fully agree Jan 22, 2015

Chris S wrote:

Never really grasped why we're not paid by the hour.

Companies manage to pay bricklayers by the hour rather than by the brick, and to allow for some being quicker than others, so why not translators?

It's no wonder we're not taken seriously or treated like professionals when we charge piecemeal as though all words were equal and no skill was required.


I fully agree with you there. I notice if I get builders in to do some work around the house, they charge me for materials used plus the hours they put in. Ask a plumber what his rate is per metre of pipe, and you will get a very funny look. Commoditisation is what is killing our business.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 20:48
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
None of the above Jan 22, 2015

I charge by source character not word.

It's a cultural thing. And, believe me, there are some nasty characters out there.


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Susana E. Cano Méndez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:48
Member
French to Spanish
+ ...
Usually per target word (Spain and rest of Europe) Jan 22, 2015

I am a translator since 1989 and I have always be paid (in Europe) per target word. I think this is pretty fair, since in my speciality (Sworn and legal translations) we have to explain rough terms or acronyms that are different form country to country, or write "what we see" (i.e. stamps, illegible signatures...); all of this increase in 10% the word count.

If we stick to translation definition as "transferring written texts to equivalent written texts in another language" (more or less), we have to agree that this is not that simple: a method that is commonly applied is paraphrase or rewording. Of course, we try to avoid it, but sometimes this is the only way. Or translators' notes, on the other hand. Why not to be paid for this work? Plus counting target words is as easy or easier than counting source words, since the majority of my documents comes in "strange" formats (like paper or .pdf).

Well I feel ok invoicing per target word and so do my clients (so far).


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Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:48
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Source word Jan 22, 2015

That's the norm for my clients. It's not worth arguing about because the effort averages out over the months and years. There's no perfect solution.

Oliver Lawrence wrote:
If you charge by target word, then you effectively have an incentive to pad out the target text, thus impairing the quality of your own product.


Oliver, I can't imagine that a serious professional would even think of that. Furthermore, a briefer text is not always better. It's not unusual to have an expansion factor in the target language because of the need to elaborate on concepts that have to be explained. In English, texts that are too compact can be confusing or ambiguous and slow the reader down. In other words, one expands and contracts as the context requires and monetary compensation should have nothing to do with it.

One more point: It does depend on the language, as others have mentioned. By tradition, the wordier or the two languages is the one that's counted. For example, it would behoove a translator working from German to charge either by the source character or by the target word.

[Edited at 2015-01-22 11:02 GMT]


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 13:48
Turkish to English
+ ...
This can be incorporated into the rate Jan 22, 2015

Muriel Vasconcellos wrote:

...

One more point: It does depend on the language, as others have mentioned. By tradition, the wordier or the two languages is the one that's counted. For example, it would behoove a translator working from German to charge either by the source character or by the target word.

[Edited at 2015-01-22 11:02 GMT]


Your point is certainly very valid for those who translate from an agglutinating language such as Turkish into an isolating language such as English, but this expansion can be factored into the price, such that if, for example, I am asked to quote my per-word rate in euro, I will currently state this as: 11 cents per source word/7 cents per target word.


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