Budget information - source or target word?
Thread poster: Tim Drayton

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
May 1, 2013

I have just checked the budget information in a Turkish-English job offer posted at Proz, and noticed that this is specified in terms of the number of words, without indicating whether this refers to source or target words. There are language pairs such as Turkish to English in which there is a huge expansion (and presumably others in which there is a large contraction) between the source and target word count, and quoting a price per word in such pairs is meaningless without knowing whether this is per source or target word. Perhaps at the very least this feature could be amended so that posters can, should they wish, specify whether they mean source or target words.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:46
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
I would assume source May 1, 2013

Agencies have to give potential customers an estimate. If they base it on source count they know the exact number of words. If a Turkish agency offers a 9000 word job, this will surely be the Turkish word count, though the English may be 11000 to 13000 words. I don't know the differential for Turkish, but In Russian I reckon the Russian word count is only about 70% of the English translation. This is only an average, it can be less or more for different kinds of work. Russian has no definite or indefinite article, which affects the word count in most texts, but for a list of items held in storage, for example, the items would be listed without articles in English too.
So source word count is much more convenient for agencies.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
An assumption is not good enough May 1, 2013

Jack Doughty wrote:

Agencies have to give potential customers an estimate. If they base it on source count they know the exact number of words. If a Turkish agency offers a 9000 word job, this will surely be the Turkish word count, though the English may be 11000 to 13000 words. I don't know the differential for Turkish, but In Russian I reckon the Russian word count is only about 70% of the English translation. This is only an average, it can be less or more for different kinds of work. Russian has no definite or indefinite article, which affects the word count in most texts, but for a list of items held in storage, for example, the items would be listed without articles in English too.
So source word count is much more convenient for agencies.


I am sorry, but an assumption is not good enough for me. I frequently work for agencies on both bases - the principal of contractual freedom is almost universally recognised - and there are also cases where it is more logical and reasonable to work on a source text count - principally when working from a scanned or handwritten document where the source word count is not automatically available.

Incidentally. if your assumption is actually correct, I do not so what would be so hard about making this absolutely clear on the job offer page.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:46
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Needs to be 100% clear, certainly May 1, 2013

I agree, Tim, that the system needs to make it clear - any sort of misunderstanding regarding word count or per-word rate can be very damaging.

But meanwhile, like Jack, I think it's 99% safe to assume that an agency will be quoting source word rate - target word rates have disadvantages for both sides, although they are sometimes used when it's difficult/impossible to count the source.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Contractual freedom May 1, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

... target word rates have disadvantages for both sides, although they are sometimes used when it's difficult/impossible to count the source.


You may well be right, but the doctrine of contractual freedom dictates that both parties may freely enter into any agreement that they wish.


 

writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
It all depends on the languages involved May 1, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

target word rates have disadvantages for both sides, although they are sometimes used when it's difficult/impossible to count the source.


In my case, for example, with French, source language count is best for the translator, but for Dutch and German, there can be a percentage of earnings lost when source language is used (which it usually is, unfortunately). One can't generalise, so I fully understand Tim's concern.


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 00:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sraw poll May 1, 2013

I have just conducted a straw poll by examining the 34 invoices that I have issued so far this year for Turkish into English translations, and I find that, of these, 9 were based on a source volume count (words or characters), 11 on a target volume count and 14 involved a set fee quoted in advance for the entire job. These figures do not appear to support the bland assumption that 'word count' always means 'source word count'.

Would it really be very hard, at the very least, just to specify by way of default on the job page that 'word count' means 'source word count'?


 

Shai Navé  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 00:46
Member
English to Hebrew
+ ...
I think that there is a more urgent question May 1, 2013

How one can quote (and why would one consider doing so) without first seeing the actual text and having all the relevant information about the project requirements?
Then one should quote and add his or her terms for the project.

Therefore I think that the question is somewhat irrelevant because it looks at thing from the wrong angle. Professional translators should not be dictated the terms of their work and instead should be the ones who set the fee and other related terms. Flexibility and consideration are always in order, but up to a certain degree.

And on a side note, if despite all of the above one decides to bid, one can add a note about the quote being based on the source or target language. I also recommend quoting a FEE for the entire project that takes into account all of the project aspects instead of a per word rate.

[Edited at 2013-05-01 19:51 GMT]


 

accents_ie  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:46
English
+ ...
Price per word after you see the job May 2, 2013

Price per word can be indicative only unless translator or agency sure about the actual amount of work involved .Sometimes 100 words can be more time consuming than 500.

So we give a price to customers as indication or estimated only, but after we see the document in full and discuss it with a translator, we are giving a TOTAL price for this translation to customer. And that is fixed - no changes after.

Only with a few languages and mostly when documents are hand writen or impossible to estimate in advance, price can or will be per target word count.


 


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