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2000 words an hour = industry standard?
Thread poster: Wolfgang Jörissen

Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Apr 30, 2009

That is what I was told. How come I hear this figure for the first time in my life? I always thought that 1000-1500 words would be a reasonable quantity to do in an hour, assuming the quality of the text is satisfactory. Could I get some feedback on that?

[Edited at 2009-04-30 11:57 GMT]


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Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 20:39
English to Russian
2000 words Apr 30, 2009

1. There's no industry standards.
2. You are right about normal throughput.
3. They are knocking you over.
E.g. Microsoft assumes 1200 words per hour for LQA tasks (somewhat less for UI). 2000 words can be fine for target-only proofing, but not for full editing.


[Edited at 2009-04-30 10:17 GMT]


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:39
English to German
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It's like saying €0.20/word is an industry standard Apr 30, 2009

Wolfgang Jörissen wrote:

That is what I was told to me. How come I hear this figure for the first time in my life? I always thought that 1000-1500 words would be a reasonable quantity to do in an hour, assuming the quality of the text is satisfactory. Could I get some feedback on that?


There is NO standard!


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:39
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English to Hungarian
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Editing or proof-reading? Apr 30, 2009

2000 words of editing or proof-reading per hour?

For editing, it looks far too much -- even when the quality is good, 1000 is a much better ballpark figure.
For proof-reading 2000 words per hour can be feasible.

Attila


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
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Dutch to German
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Exactly what I thought Apr 30, 2009

The word "industry standard" sounded suspicious to me anyway. The figure I called reasonable is based purely on my own experience.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:39
Member (2003)
German to English
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A bit much I think Apr 30, 2009

Standard? Like my shoe size? I'm sure it will fit you....

I never plan more than 1000 words/hour for reviewing even if I can see that the text is good. If I end up working twice as fast or faster, that's great, but if there are patches of incompetence or I need to do some research, the time passes quickly.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:39
German to English
Revising? Apr 30, 2009

Wolfgang Jörissen wrote: That is what I was told. How come I hear this figure for the first time in my life? I always thought that 1000-1500 words would be a reasonable quantity to do in an hour, assuming the quality of the text is satisfactory. Could I get some feedback on that?


Do you mean revising a translation? Or editing a translation that's already been revised? Or proofreading (final review of the proofs)?

You can certainly revise 2000-2500 words per hour for a translation that's been done by an expert in the subject area (in which you're also an expert) who is also an absolutely first-class translator (not so many of those around).

At the other end of the scale, a truly dire translation can take so long to revise, you'd probably be quicker retranslating it yourself. For this sort of translation, think 200-300 words/hour.

So the bandwidth is huge, and IMHO there's no such thing as a standard throughput. It's also why we don't revise translations done by anybody else, period.

Robin (who revises at least a million words a year)


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
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Dutch to German
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Thanks RobinB Apr 30, 2009

RobinB wrote:

You can certainly revise 2000-2500 words per hour for a translation that's been done by an expert in the subject area (in which you're also an expert) who is also an absolutely first-class translator (not so many of those around).

At the other end of the scale, a truly dire translation can take so long to revise, you'd probably be quicker retranslating it yourself. For this sort of translation, think 200-300 words/hour.


This more or less matches with my experience (except for the fact that I am probably no such expert who can ever dream of doing 2500 words in an hour). In fact, it was one of those totally underestimated jobs: announced as "final check" and it turned out to be hell (which also the client acknowledged). We have settled the matter now and I was able to use the feedback from this thread.

Thank you all for your input!


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Julianne Rowland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:39
German to English
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Definition of revising, editing please Apr 30, 2009

[/quote]Do you mean revising a translation? Or editing a translation that's already been revised? Or proofreading (final review of the proofs)? [/quote]

Robin,

I would be very interested in the definition of revising and editing as applied in your company. I find that these terms are often used almost interchangeably in the marketplace, making it hard to know how to accept and charge for such jobs without specific clarification of the terms.

FWIW, based on my understanding, editing involves a thorough check of both source and target and any necessary changes in style, register, terminology, phrasing, etc. For this type of work, I usually figure 700-1,000 words per hour IF the translation is good and well researched.

Proofreading, as I understand it, only involves reading through the source to check for punctuation and grammar, possibly with a check against the source for things such as numbers, dates, etc. A ballpark figure of 2,000 is usually what I calculate in this case.

As for revision, this is a term I hear used primarily by Canadian and U.K. colleagues and therefore thought it was basically the same as editing. Based on your explanation, though, it seems revising is a separate, preliminary step.

I realize this has probably been discussed in various venues on ProZ and elsewhere, but I would appreciate your insight.

Many thanks.

Regards,

Julianne

[Edited at 2009-04-30 21:23 GMT]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:39
German to English
Revision/editing (reviewing)/proofreading Apr 30, 2009

Julianne Rowland wrote:
I would be very interested in the definition of revising and editing as applied in your company. I find that these terms are often used almost interchangeably in the marketplace, making it hard to know how to accept and charge for such jobs without specific clarification of the terms.


You're right about the fairly arbitary use of the terms. EN 15038 uses the term "revision" for what's essentially the QA of the translation. It uses the term "review" for what I've termed (perhaps misleadingly) "editing", and defines it broadly as the examination of the target text (only, i.e. not referring to the source text) for suitability for purpose and compliance with subject area conventions. Finally, prooreading means checking the proofs before publication - mainly a formal check, i.e. "is everything there?", typos and punctuation, widow/orphan control, that sort of thing, though we may combine it with review/editing or even a final revision, especially if our client has seized an opportunity to mangle the translation after we've delivered it.

In North America, "editing" is generally used for what we call revision, though at many - possibly most - translation agencies, it's often restricted to a formal check, rather than a comprehensive examination of whether the translation is accurate and appropriate, together with the corresponding corrections. This would then be part of your own understanding of "editing":

FWIW, based on my understanding, editing involves a thorough check of both source and target and any necessary changes in style, register, terminology, phrasing, etc.


For us, editing (what EN 15038 calls "reviewing") is divorced from the source text, i.e. you read through the target text on a standalone basis. Not many translators are able to do this for specialised texts, because you need a very high level of subject area knowledge.

Proofreading, as I understand it, only involves reading through the source to check for punctuation and grammar, possibly with a check against the source for things such as numbers, dates, etc.


Yes, in most cases it's a formal check, as I explained above. But it's largely to check that the typesetter has got it right, rather than the translator. Few typesetters (in any country) seem to have much experience with foreign language conventions (or they simply don't care: word division is one of the biggest problems here, as well as things like decimal points/commas). Often enough, though, they omit whole chunks of text. For printers here in Germany, we always use the standard DIN proofing marks to mark up the changes.

HTH,
Robin


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Julianne Rowland  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:39
German to English
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Thanks, Robin May 1, 2009

Thank you for shedding light on these often confusing/confused terms!

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Sergio Lozano
Local time: 11:39
Spanish to English
translating, editing and proofreading May 5, 2009

There are several things to mention with regard to the previous posts. Revision, as mentioned, is incorrect. Editing can be divided into two types, light editing and extensive editing. The first refers only to gramatical, spelling and punctuation errors with minimal changes to the text. Extensive editing takes into consideration style, meaning and agreement. Logically the former takes less time than the latter. Most of the time if we have translated correctly during the quality check only light editing is necessary. Proofreading is exactly that, reading the proof provided by the publisher to look for errors missed during editing and to answer queries from the editor. This usually takes very little time.
Translation varies according to the difficulty of the text and the translator´s knowledge of the subject, 500-1000 words per hour is more reasonable. Some people will go faster because they have a good translation memory, access to detailed information, etc. Establishing an industry standard for translation is difficult because there are many factors involved besides translation. Could someone provide some references with regard to this? It would be interesting to see if there is any research on the subject.


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xxxSerena Warlu  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:39
French to English
200,000 words proof-reading for a novice! May 25, 2009

I was about to start a new thread but my question seems just as appropriate here.

I have received a proposal to "proof-read" 2 volumes of a scientific book – about 200000 words. However, this isn’t an initial proof-reading. I am told it has been proof-read twice and this will be a third proof-reading before it is sent to the publishers.

I have done very little proof-reading. I told the agency this two weeks ago but they just made another proposal.

200000 words is a lot! How fast do you think a novice proof-reader could do this?


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
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Dutch to German
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TOPIC STARTER
Don't get stuck with proofreading only for a long time May 25, 2009

Hello Serena,

Whatever you do, do not do it because you need the money, but do it because you like the job. Look into that text, read a couple of pages and estimate whether it is going to be something you can do while sitting relaxed on the couch or whether it is going to be a standing nightmare. If it is the latter, leave it.

Well, you wanted figures, here is my estimate. Of course, everything highly depends on the quality you get. And unfortunately, the fact that it "has been proofread twice already" does not always match with the truth, as I had to find out the hard way.
The maximum I ever proofread in a day was +/-10.000 words. But this absolute high would probably be the kind of figure some people would love to see as an "industry standard". Ignore taht and cut it down to 7.000 or even 6.000. This might not fill your day after all, but in my opinion, this should not be the only thing you are doing during that time. When I proofread, my productivity is at its best when I do some translation work inbetween.

HTH
Wolfgang

[Edited at 2009-05-25 16:21 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
a novice knows May 25, 2009

Hello Serena, first of all you need a checklist of primary requirements like these:
1. at least good knowledge of punctuation and grammar
2. no distraction environment
3. reading the piece out loud
4. frequent fixed breaks
5. after brakes treat the document as you had never seen it before
6. mind inconsistencies in style and formatting too
7. check one word at a time - stare at each word in turn
8. proof one line at a time
9. always do a final proofreading on the hard copy
10. you’d get someone else to proofread (at least some tricky passages) because we tend to be blind to our own mistakes.

Generally speaking it is just a different reading technique: concentrate at every word for about 2 sec meanwhile perceiving the whole picture. It should become customary soon, but if the ageny asks you... You’ll get it

Cheers


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