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Average translation time.

Active Member
Rowena M Member Since: Mar 19, 2016
1 of 13

Hi,

 

I have recently signed up as a French to English translator on Upwork but all the translations I have done in the past have been without a time limit because they were for companies I already worked full time for so I don't know what kind of estimated time to give. I am reasonably fast at translating because I have a very good level of French and I am English but it is hard to know at the beginning exactly what you will be able to fit in.

 

On the forums I have found experienced translators have been saying around 6-7 pages is reasonable per day so I was wondering if any translators on here could confirm that?

 

Thank you,

 

Rowena

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
2 of 13

It all depends on how many words to a page, and of course, the complexity of the text. My average is about 2000 to 3000 (If I am really pushed) words a day, But if the content is very technical, or very literary, it could be considerably less.

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
3 of 13

I do 2000/3000 words on average too but it may be more if there are repeating segments since I'm using a CAT tool.  Some contents go smooth with CAT while for others, it has no added value in speed.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Hanna N Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
4 of 13

The best way to know, really, is to test yourself. Most translators will say that a comfortable daily quota is around 2500 words, but like Nichola pointed out, it all depends on the complexity of the text and how well it plays to your strengths as a translator (text type, theme and related vocabulary). I'm a fast typer and my translation speed with a text that's ideal peaks at 5000 words per day (at 8 hours a day), but that's just it - it peaks. I could not keep that up for days on end. 

 

Simple text is always faster to translate, and during long assignments, you generally speaking pick up speed during the translation as you become more accustomed to the text.

 

When I give quotes to clients, for an average text that doesn't require anything specific, I would give an estimation by calculating a number of words in the text and dividing it by 2500, and then use this number to divide the number of available working hours I have left in the weeks that the assignment falls on - so remember to factor in any other projects you might have for that time period, time you put aside for applying to other jobs/marketing yourself etc. And then I add some extra time to my estimation to make sure I can deliver in time even if I get sick or I find that I need to consult someone etc.

Community Guru
Gabor K Member Since: Apr 1, 2015
5 of 13

Hanna: 5000 words a day is a great performance, I think. Even better, when one doesn't have to fiddle with formatting and layout (personally, I dislike having PowerPoint translations, for example - more time spent with careful "editing", than translation itself).

Community Guru
Rene K Member Since: Jul 10, 2014
6 of 13

@Gabor K wrote:

Hanna: 5000 words a day is a great performance, I think. Even better, when one doesn't have to fiddle with formatting and layout (personally, I dislike having PowerPoint translations, for example - more time spent with careful "editing", than translation itself).


This is where CAT tools come in handy. You don't mess with formatting anymore, it's taken care of by the CAT software.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
7 of 13

In that case, I must try CAT. Formatting does my head in. As Gabor says, you can spend more time on that than translating.

Community Guru
Gabor K Member Since: Apr 1, 2015
8 of 13

Not mentioning that you lose the flow, while fiddling with formatting. 
Personally, I would recommend memoQ as a very nice CAT tool.
(It can be used to just do away with formatting and have a clean work interface - after exporting the document, the formatting will be in place again in the final version.)
Not all documents are compatible with CAT tools, though.

Community Guru
Hanna N Member Since: Jun 17, 2015
9 of 13

I don't mind a bit of editing, it only becomes cumbersome when you're translating something like someone's school diploma, a certificate or record of courses that has gazillion lines and a lot of small print and of course, the translated content cannot fit in the same space as the original does, as Finns love ridiculously long words such as 'juoksentelisinkohan' (I wonder if I should run around aimlessly) and 'epäjärjestelmällisyydellään' ("with his or her unorganized way/ being disorganized" - "Hän pilasi kokouksen epäjärjestelmällisyydellään - She ruined the meeting by being disorganized). 

 

And yeah the 5000 words a day definitely is a peak for me. It was for a long government manual with some repetition. I find government manuals easier to translate because the pompous writing style always sounds the same, so no time is spent on absorbing style of the original writing, I also find them easy to translate from English to Finnish since I used to write a lot of funding applications for government programs back in my producer days, so I had to invest a lot of time into understanding their "language", so to speak. 

 

I wish I had enough money for a CAT tool; I've only used the free softwares' thus far since I'm too poor to put aside the cash for one. I will have to get one soon though; I've noticed more and more clients are starting to require them for manuals, as they believe the translation will be more unified when a CAT tool is utilized.

Community Guru
Nichola L Member Since: Mar 13, 2015
10 of 13

The worst for me is translating from a PDF as I only have the basic Adobe program. If I copy/paste then the formatting is generally all over the place. Even when I had the convert to Word program, it was never accurate. I found quite a good PDF converter, some time ago - but lost it when I crashed my PC in the changeover to Win10 - now I can't find it again grrr . . . (sorry - went a bit OT)

 

I usually have to use two computers with PDF translations. 

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