Reverse Word Counts

Many advanced translation buyers are aware that foreign languages can be longer than English. What some may not know is that length does not always translate to more words, but the actual length of the text itself.

For example, German text can be close to the same amount of words as the English, but it can also be longer in terms of characters.

Here is an example:

  • English: If a serious incident has occurred in relation to this medical device, to the user, or to another person, then the user (or responsible person) must report the serious incident to the medical device manufacturer or the distributor. (38 words)
  • German: Falls es im Zusammenhang mit diesem medizinischen Gerät zu einem schweren Zwischenfall mit dem Benutzer oder einer einer anderen Person gekommen ist, muss der Benutzer (oder die zuständige Person) den schweren Zwischenfall an den Hersteller oder Vertreiber des medizinischen Geräts melden. (41 words)

While the difference in word count is only 3 words, the character count is significantly higher in the German. The English contains 231 characters, but the German contains 289 characters. The word count from English to German is an 8% increase in words, but the character count is an increase of 25%. Therefore, we can honestly say that the German text can be up to 25% longer than the English as far as the amount of space it will take up on a page.

This is where some advanced translation buyers get a little confused with the end result. They associate character differences with actual word count differences. Therefore, when purchasing translation that involves a foreign language being translated into English, the buyer expects the English text to be 25% less than the German. The English text may be less in character count, but not in the actual word count.

If you take the German text and translate it to English, the English text will only be about 7 8% shorter than the German as opposed to 25% shorter, when talking about target word counts. This is where the translation agency can get into trouble with paying and/or charging on the target word count. The client expects to pay 25% less for the English, when in reality, they will only be paying about 7-8% less.

Not everyone understands that text length and word counts differ. In this case, the difference is that one refers to the amount of space a foreign language will take up on a page and the other refers to the number of words in the final document.

Many advanced translation buyers are aware that foreign languages can be longer than English. What some may not know is that length does not always translate to more words, but the actual length of the text itself.

For example, German text can be close to the same amount of words as the English, but it can also be longer in terms of characters.

Here is an example:

English

If a serious incident has occurred in relation to this medical device, to the user, or to another person, then the user (or responsible person) must report the serious incident to the medical device manufacturer or the distributor. (38 words)

German

Falls es im Zusammenhang mit diesem medizinischen Gerät zu einem schweren Zwischenfall mit dem Benutzer oder einer einer anderen Person gekommen ist, muss der Benutzer (oder die zuständige Person) den schweren Zwischenfall an den Hersteller oder Vertreiber des medizinischen Geräts melden. (41 words)

While the difference in word count is only 3 words, the character count is significantly higher in the German. The English contains 231 characters, but the German contains 289 characters. The word count from English to German is an 8% increase in words, but the character count is an increase of 25%. Therefore, we can honestly say that the German text can be up to 25% longer than the English as far as the amount of space it will take up on a page.

This is where some advanced translation buyers get a little confused with the end result. They associate character differences with actual word count differences. Therefore, when purchasing translation that involves a foreign language being translated into English, the buyer expects the English text to be 25% less than the German. The English text may be less in character count, but not in the actual word count.

If you take the German text and translate it to English, the English text will only be about 7‑8% shorter than the German as opposed to 25% shorter, when talking about target word counts. This is where the translation agency can get into trouble with paying and/or charging on the target word count. The client expects to pay 25% less for the English, when in reality, they will only be paying about 7-8% less.

Not everyone understands that text length and word counts differ. In this case, the difference is that one refers to the amount of space a foreign language will take up on a page and the other refers to the number of words in the final document.

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