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A-Z of Translation – the letter D:

Hitting our stride now, the letter D sees us addressing one of the big three translation variables:

Deadlines – Every translation job is defined by three elements: price, quality and time. Like the price – but unlike quality – deadlines have the attraction of being highly visible. Clients normally know when they need a translation, while not necessarily being aware of the time and effort involved in producing a satisfactory piece of work (everyone in the translation sector will have their own story of someone asking if a document as thick as a telephone directory can be translated by the day after tomorrow, preferably inscribed on clay tablets). So how long does translation take?

Well, it depends. It would be easy to spend days coming up with a viable translation of an advertising slogan, for example, with several people bouncing ideas off each other at intervals and then going away to think about the results. In a more typical scenario, we assume for planning purposes that a translator’s average throughput is around 2,000 words a day. A recent industry survey put the actual figure at just under 2,700 words, but familiarity with the subject matter, the ability to work without interruptions, the length of any breaks and indeed of working hours can all make a huge difference, so any average can be very misleading. It’s also important to remember that we’re only talking about producing the initial translation here, which then needs to be reviewed by a second person. For larger documents, or sets of documents, and cases where translation into multiple languages is required, project management overhead also needs to be factored in.

The one certainty is that all other things being equal, spending more time on a translation will yield better results!

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