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Poll: Do you keep track of the accumulated number of words you've translated?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 20:15
SITE STAFF
Jul 3, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you keep track of the accumulated number of words you've translated?".

This poll was originally submitted by Firas Allouzi. View the poll results »



 

Billh
Local time: 04:15
Spanish to English
+ ...
After the first 20 million or so..... Jul 3, 2015

.... it becomes a tedious exercise.....

 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:15
Member
English to French
Yes, the exact number Jul 3, 2015

But I don't see the point.

The only things that matter are :
Customers coming back
Yearly income

Philippe


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Mercenary Jul 3, 2015

I just keep track of the exact amount of money I've made

 

Firas Allouzi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:15
English to Arabic
+ ...
Experience and Professional Memberships Jul 3, 2015

The reason why I suggested this poll was because I have been asked a few times in the past about an estimate of the number of translated words/pages in general or in a specific specialised field. Some linguistic bodies make such requests when a linguist is applying for professional memberships and some high profile clients do as well. Just to get a general idea of your volume of work and experience.

 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:15
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
From time to time Jul 3, 2015

I''m not very regular about it, but sometimes I add it up to make sure I'm keeping up my pace. I only do it for my own benefit. I'm concerned about month-to-month and totals for several months in a row. I want to make sure I haven't lost my edge.

I haven't a clue how much I've translated in over 40 years of nearly full-time devotion to the craft.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Not a good measure of anything Jul 3, 2015

Firas Allouzi wrote:

The reason why I suggested this poll was because I have been asked a few times in the past about an estimate of the number of translated words/pages in general or in a specific specialised field. Some linguistic bodies make such requests when a linguist is applying for professional memberships and some high profile clients do as well. Just to get a general idea of your volume of work and experience.


It really irked me when I first started translating that competence was measured in words or years.

It's now a long time since anybody has asked me for either but here goes:

10,000 words per week x 40 weeks x 22 years = lots


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 04:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Exactly why I replied "Yes", Firas Jul 3, 2015

Firas Allouzi wrote:
The reason why I suggested this poll was because I have been asked a few times in the past about an estimate of the number of translated words/pages in general or in a specific specialised field. Some linguistic bodies make such requests when a linguist is applying for professional memberships and some high profile clients do as well. Just to get a general idea of your volume of work and experience.

That's why I set up my Excel spreadsheet to keep a running total of words. It's all automatic - after all, we need word count for almost every invoice so we must know what it is. I also break it down into my two main specialisations, again almost automatically - I mark the subject and the spreadsheet adds the word-count into the corresponding total. Another total deals with words revised (proofread, edited...whatever). It can also be made to tell me, in just a few seconds, what the count is for a particular client.

It's no hassle, no overhead, just making full use of my existing records.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:15
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
No Jul 3, 2015

I always write the project word count on my invoices, so I suppose if I wanted I could go back through all my old paperwork and add up the number of words. But that wouldn't include translations I did for academic purposes, translations I did as a favour for friends, etc.
In my opinion, judging a translator on the number of words he or she has translated can, at best, only be a very rough guide as there are so many variables. A small number of words translated well is much better than a huge volume translated badly. Some translators (like me!) translate everything manually, whereas many choose to increase their productivity by using CAT tools, while others simply process large amounts of text using machine translation. There are much better ways of demonstrating a translator's abilities.


 

Annamaria Amik  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:15
Romanian to English
+ ...
Yes Jul 3, 2015

And I do find it relevant. If I were a client, I would want to know the vendor's actual experience, not the one measured in years (part-time translators could go months without any translation job). The volume shows how much translation was actually entrusted to that translator, it somehow reflects the clients' confidence in that translator. In some very specialized fields, such as law and finance, it does matter how much quantifiable experience one has.
Having said that, translators can claim whatever they want...


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 05:15
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
The Danes call it selling elastic by the yard Jul 3, 2015

[quote]Chris S wrote:


It really irked me when I first started translating that competence was measured in words or years.

It's now a long time since anybody has asked me for either but here goes:

10,000 words per week x 40 weeks x 22 years = lots


Same here.

You are simply not comparing like with like.
Word counts for the same text vary enormously from language to language.
That is partly why some people claim we charge exorbitant rates for Scandinavian languages... and others are 'cheaper'.

What about all those CAT-repetitions?

Right now I am working on a job with over 60% repetitions.
There are loads of identical table headings for each month for several years, seasonal variations, and some small comments. Trados does the months and seasons, I just check them.

Are the months 12 words or 60?
Total slightly over a couple of thousand words in the file, Trados says around 700 new words...

Etc.

Yesterday it took me hours to get through a couple of files with a fraction of the word count, but they were old technical training certificates from institutions and academies that no longer exist.

I did count up a rough estimate of how many words I had translated in three years for the CIoL last year, and it convinced me even more that it is a pointless exercise. The only problem is that I don't know how else to prove I am working full time.


[Edited at 2015-07-03 14:07 GMT]


 

Jeandra Raimond  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:15
Member (2013)
English to German
Yes, the exact number Jul 3, 2015

I regularly update an Excel file of all my projects, mainly to check for outstanding payments and to keep track of the fields I work in etc. I also add the number of words for every project (one column for translation and one for proofreading). I just like seeing how my business is evolving over time.

 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I am not a used car for sale Jul 3, 2015

At a used cars store, two identical, same-year cars, if car A was used by a granny twice a week to do her grocery shopping and take her aging Fido to the vet; and car B was used by a tri-state traveling salesman, obviously the latter will have a lower price tag.

In the 42 years I've been translating professionally, I've done so many different things, that while I am a seasoned expert in some of them, I'm still a newbie in others. While I have a general idea on what falls into either category, the grand total of words (as well as any partials) will be meaningless.


 

Bettina Dauch  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:15
French to German
+ ...
I don't translate words... Jul 3, 2015

...but texts.

That's why I agree with Chris S, Helen Hagon, Christine Andersen, and José Henrique Lamensdorf; the number of translated words hardly tells you anything about the experience of a translator.


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 00:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
On a second thought... Jul 3, 2015

... if such metrics held any water, Google Translate would beat all of us... added together!

 
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