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31705Re: [Czechlist] Comparative word counts

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  • James Kirchner
    Aug 1, 2006
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      Martin, your remarks make me think of a time I was working on
      publications for General Motors that had to be put into French for
      Quebec. The French translations done in house at GM tended to be 25
      to 33 percent longer, and we had horrible trouble with the layouts,
      especially when a five-word English headline would cover THREE LINES
      in French. The department head at GM finally decided to farm the
      work out to an independent translation company near Toronto. That
      agency's French translations came out the same length -- or even
      shorter -- than the English original, which is amazing, since here
      they always tell designers to allow an extra 25 percent more layout
      space for French. Their French also sounded less labored.

      Jamie

      On Aug 1, 2006, at 7:00 PM, Martin Janda wrote:

      > Not sure about generally accepted figures but I guess these two
      > things
      > may vary a lot - most of my target Czech texts are about 10% shorter
      > than the source text, but I vaguely recall that in times when I was
      > working into English, the resulting texts were at least the same size
      > but mostly a bit longer than the source. I guess it has often
      > much to
      > do with language/writing skills - those who are less gifted in
      > creative
      > writing (even if writing in their mother tongue) tend to need longer
      > phrases to tell their message. (Now, this was a long phrase,
      > wasn't it?
      > :-)
      >
      > But yes, there is a myth shared by at least some Czech agencies that a
      > translation has to be about 10% longer (probably because they are
      > working with poor translators only).
      >
      > Martin
      >
      >
      >> 1. Comparative word counts
      >> Posted by: "James Kirchner" jpklists@... kirchnerjk
      >> Date: Mon Jul 31, 2006 2:27 pm (PDT)
      >>
      >> Someone has contacted me (and probably some of you) to find out if
      >> there's any typical ratio that can be used as a rule of thumb for
      >> estimating the probable word count in a Czech-to-English translation
      >> and an English-to-Czech translation.
      >>
      >> Does anybody know of something like that? All I could tell her was
      >> that my English usually comes out about 25 percent shorter than the
      >> original Czech, IF the Czech formality level is inappropriate for
      >> English.
      >>
      >> Does anybody have any generally accepted numbers?
      >>
      >> Thanks.
      >>
      >> Jamie
      >>
      >>
      >>
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