How much higher is English word count than German?
Thread poster: Andrew Stucken

Andrew Stucken
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:50
German to English
Aug 14, 2009

Allow me to clarify my question: We have a set of documents (bureaucratic text - set of letters from courts and tax authorities) totalling around 3,000 words in the ST (English).

These are to be translated into German and I have been asked to prepare a quote. The STs are so diverse and numerous that counting STs would waste all day.

Is there a generally agreed word count ratio of English:German - i.e 1050:1000 or whatever?


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:50
French to English
+ ...
20% Aug 14, 2009

I normally work on the basis of a 20% difference between English and German when submitting quotes. I.e. for every 1200 English words, you'd have 1000 German. In saying that, I usually translate technical texts, not legal documents, so that may be different....

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
In the case of legal documents it is around 30% Aug 14, 2009

Hello Andrew,

I find that 20-25% would be the minimum, but with legal documents 30% is nearer the mark. It can be up to 35%.

I normally take 30% as the figure on which to base a quote.

Hope this helps.

Astrid


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Andrew Stucken
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:50
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
That seems plausible Aug 14, 2009

Thanks, ladies.

I was always told there was a difference of 10%,but that seemed to be an underestimate.


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John Jory  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 15:50
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Replace hyphens in German Aug 14, 2009

If you are using the MS Word wordcount feature, remember that hyphenated words count as 1 word. Therefore, your count will be more accurate if you replace the hyphens with spaces (search & replace).
Most of my texts are of a technical nature, and I have found a factor of 20% is OK. If the hyphens have been removed, the factor is closer to 15%.

Greetings, JJ


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 15:50
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Decompression rate" Aug 15, 2009

Andrew Stucken wrote:

I was always told there was a difference of 10%,but that seemed to be an underestimate.


AT LEAST 18%, but Astrid's estimate of 20-25% (with more in legal) is safer if you have to generalise. (10% is the difference in most Romance languages).


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Jon Fedler
Local time: 16:50
German to English
+ ...
Agree with Astrid Aug 16, 2009

I translate both legal and technical documents and usually end up with about 30% more (though in one case it was 40%).

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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
German to English
+ ...
Wait - subject matter might make a difference Aug 18, 2009

You are translating legal texts from English to German. Usually I translate the same from German to English, and the expansion rates mentioned here definitely apply. However, apart from language pair, I think one factor in legal texts is the need to explain in brackets after the original term the names of laws, institutions and sometimes legal concepts that don't exist in the target language - at least that is my convention. It stands to reason that any natural "contraction" going from English to German might be made up by the need to add these explanations.

For what it's worth, most of the expansion I see in German > English is in texts like these. In more creative texts, my English often isn't much longer than the German.


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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:50
German to English
Parts lists = many more words Aug 19, 2009

Various shortcuts can be used when translating running text (deleting redundancies), thus keeping the word count close to the original. Single terms, such as parts lists and the like can result in an expansion of 30% -- or more.
Example:
Fehlerspeicher Antriebsstrangsteuergerät = powertrain control module trouble code memory

[Edited at 2009-08-19 01:14 GMT]


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