Translation speed into target language
Thread poster: Devin Nelson

Devin Nelson
Local time: 18:24
English to Chinese
+ ...
Mar 29, 2011

I'm translating advertisements and internal departmental comments every day for an international company in Beijing, from Chinese into English (my native language).

I have been doing this already for 2 months, and there are TONS of repetitions. As this is not literary translation, grammar and style are not an issue. The company I work for wants concise and direct translations as fast as possible.

I have found that I am able to produce about 1000 words per hour in the target language (English). And so on a good day, I can produce nearly 8000 words. I noticed that most posts here are all for translation projects where 2000 words equals a very successful day of translation. And so it is very obvious that the material I'm translating is very simple and contains a ridiculous amount of repetitions every day.

It seems like nobody on these forums is doing translation like this, where speed is the main factor. I have new assignments every day (nearly 15,000 Chinese characters/8,000 English words per day), and they must be done by the evening. Does anyone have any advise on this, regarding speed? My quality has not suffered at the expense of this speed, and the company seems satisfied. Does anyone else out there do translations like this, at this speed? Again, I emphasize that the material is very similar every day, and that the amount of skill required is very little.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
TM software Mar 29, 2011

I take it you're using TM software, so you don't really translate 8000 words, most of those are translated by your TM tool
I once translated 20,000 words in 10 minutes - apparently the client had forgotten I already had done this document and he sent it again. To see all those segments flying by on the screen being automatically translated was a beautiful sight...


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Hepburn  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:24
English to French
+ ...
Speed is of the essence: Ok but what is the question? Mar 29, 2011

" Does anyone have any advise on this, regarding speed? My quality has not suffered at the expense of this speed, and the company seems satisfied. Does anyone else out there do translations like this, at this speed? "

Hi, new user,

Having read all the information given on your experience in speed translating, I am at a loss to get the point of your post. I am wondering whether you are happy about your speed translating or complaining about it or looking for some approval. I have selected the questions above in case that is what you are wondering about and will try and answer those.

What sort of advice are you looking for, regarding speed? Are you looking for more speed? Are you wondering whether it is right or wrong? Are you looking for our blessing? In the latter case, I think that what one does to earn a living is a very private thing and you are absolutely free to translate the way which suits you best. My own worry is that you might suffer from burn out after a few months if that is the only type of translation you do, in view of the volume.
But I hope it is just a temporary job.

Look, if one day you have had enough, we can exchange: you send me some of your stuff for a week and I'll send you some of mine during the same period. What do you think?

Claudette

[Edited at 2011-03-29 09:56 GMT]

[Edited at 2011-03-29 09:57 GMT]


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Kirsten Bodart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:24
Dutch to English
+ ...
5000 in the good target language Mar 29, 2011

If I translate into English from Dutch, I'll do 5000 words Dutch easily in one day. Without translation memory but my own head. The other way around for some reason doesn't go that fast, although that is also my mother tongue. I suppose it is because of Dutch itself. French and German into English/Dutch is slower, but I would say I could reach 4000 easily too, if not too specialised a text. I once did about 10,000 Dutch to English in one day, but that was a longer day than 8 hours. I wanted to have it done. Style did not suffer.

But it is indeed the case that it gets easier the more repetitions there are, but I always try to leave it interesting for the reader, i.e. not always translate the same word with the same word, even if it is a database. Makes it more interesting for me too.


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Good for you! Mar 29, 2011

There was a poll a while back which showed that a significant minority of Prozians can get through 5,000+ words a day.

I keep to an average of 2,000-2,500 words a day, but that's mainly a lifestyle choice. I like to have time to organise my work without feeling under pressure and to keep a generous margin for the unexpected (which always happens: yesterday my computer screen turned yellow - it just "won't do" blue any more, and I have a goose that keeps escaping and waddling off down the lane).

Like you, I can manage up to 1,000 words an hour for straightforward texts without breaking into a sweat (or using CAT), but, unlike you, I don't get very many like that. I've just done a marketing text of 80 words that took me nearly an hour! OK, a significant part of that was drinking coffee and watching the birds while waiting for inspiration, but that's why I do it.

Like Claudette, I think you need to be careful to avoid burnout. Sustaining such a rate long term might not be good for you. But working methods are a very individual thing. If you are being paid fairly for what you do and it suits you, go for it!

I love Jan's 20,000 words in 10 minutes. Can anyone beat that?

Alison


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imatahan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 07:24
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends Mar 29, 2011

It depends on the text quality and difficulty, it depends on how many hours you dedicate to your translations.

In a normal day, with a very technical text, that is what I ususally do, I dedicate 4 - 6 hours to translations, and have a 3,000 - 3,500 revised words rate.

But if the client asks me an urgent job, of course I'm going to dedicate more hours to it and will spee rythm.

And goes for each person to determine that.

Claudette, I didn't get the real sense of this topic too.


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Devin Nelson
Local time: 18:24
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
reason and new questions Mar 29, 2011

Haha, yes, my post was definitely lacking direction.

This is my first translation job ever. I'm an an undergrad, and this is a temporary job (as in for the next few months). I do worry about burnout, but to me, improving my speed and gaining experience is much more important.

So the problem is that the company is pressuring me to do more. Like instead of the current 15,000 characters per day, which takes me 8 hours, they want to increase to 25,000 characters a day. And so the reason I posted this was to see how reasonable this demand of theirs is. Basically, are their demands unreasonable or am I not cut out for this job (in which case they should hire someone else who can translate 25,000 characters per day).

And now a new question pops into my head. Maybe you guys could give some advise to a fledgling translator. What are your best ways to stay concentrated when there is a high-pressure job that needs to be done as quickly as possible? What are your best methods for staying away from the internet and constantly checking your email? Do you work at a cafe or at home, loud or quiet places, listening to music or not? Drink coffee or tea? Or maybe a different environment every day?

And third, what is TM software? Thanks for your time, everyone.


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Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:24
English to Dutch
+ ...
new answers Mar 29, 2011

To your first question, I cannot give an answer, I would have to see what you were doing (and I would have to speak Chinese...)

To your second question, take planned breaks, say, 10 minutes every hour (you mileage may vary). Do NOT leave your work for 50 minutes, than stay AWAY from work (and preferably: your computer) for 10 minutes. Have a look at this software: http://www.workrave.com/ - it will also prevent RSI.
Everything else (music or not, people around you or not) is personal, I believe.

To your third question: TM is Translations Memory. In short, these are programs that remember what you have translated before. If you encounter a similar text later, it will present it to you, so you can simply hit the key for next sentence (if the previous translation is 100% correct) or quickly edit the few changes.
Market leader in this field is SDL Trados, other popular names are DejaVu, Across, Transit and many more. Some TM software (also called CAT - Computer Aided Translation) is specialized in software translation, popular names here are Catalyst, Passolo, RCWinTrans.

If you weren't using TM software until now, then:
1) I totally respect you for your 8000 word output;
2) You could maybe accommodate your boss by starting to use a TM program


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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:24
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Do you ever read what you write? Mar 29, 2011

You say that your (Chinese?) client is not complaining. This is very good, but it does not mean that your translations make sense. I am often required to do EN>It translation on texts coming from Chinese that are so poorly translated that they make no sense, and often even mean the contrary of what is intended!

I think it would be already difficult to review 13.500 words (15000:8000=25:000:x) daily for a long period, so I do not think it is possible in any way to professionally translate (wihch means translate + review prior to delivery) so much, even with a great deal of repetition, without the use of Computer Aided Translation tools (Translation Memory + Terminology + Quality Assurance).

With CATs, in very special conditions, it could be possible to do it. But it would not e wise to promise it unless you are sure that the same rate of repetition will continue to occur.


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Devin Nelson
Local time: 18:24
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
reply Mar 29, 2011

Thanks guys for the info on the TM software. I will look into that, and see if the number of repetitions merits using such software.

My clients are Americans, not Chinese, and they are satisfied with everything I have translated so far. There have been no errors, and seeing as they want to give me more work, I assume they are quite satisfied.


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Colin Smith  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:24
French to English
Translation software Mar 30, 2011

This is definitely the kind of work you should invest in translation software for - and remember that unless they have asked you to use it, you are under no obligation to tell your customer that you're using it. It's your investment and as long as they are happy with your output and quality it is not their concern how you achieve it.

If your work contains a lot of repetitions (i.e. whole sentences that are repeated once or more) you should be able to increase your output for the same per-word rate, which is where translation becomes financially viable (or even "interesting"!).

I have been doing banking and financial translation for about 5 years now, with familiar texts I can do 1000 new words (no repeats) per hour but I can only keep that up for a couple of hours at a time! Youth rules!


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