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Translators, how much do you charge per 1000 words?

(33 Posts)
Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 07:20:47

I've been asked by a Japanese academic to revise his written English. His article is fairly competantly but very weirdly written, obviously by a non-native English speaker.

It requires quite substantial revision so I thought I would pitch my fee somewhere between my normal copy-editing rate and a translator's rate. Hence my question.

I'll be very grateful for your thoughts.

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DeJaVous Sun 28-Sep-08 07:32:46

My rate is usually 10 euro cent per word for Dutch to English translation. Maybe the rates are different in the UK though.

Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 07:38:39

Thank you. That's very helpful.

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DeJaVous Sun 28-Sep-08 08:05:08

TBH I often find it much more difficult to correct weird English than just to translate. It depends on the standard of the English of course,IME it can sometimes take ages and a bit of detective work before you can be certain that your revision is true to the original intention.

It may well be worth revising a small section before you set a rate.

Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 08:25:02

Good idea. Actually, the book I'm working on now is written by an American whose first language I suspect may not be English. I think he is of Dutch extraction. He is utterly fluent, but has occasional very slightly odd sentence constructions.

But I'm editing to American styles, and I can't be quite sure whether the very subtle oddities are Americanisms (to be left) or 'Dutchisms' (to be edited). Have left most of them, for a quiet life!

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Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 13:26:22

Any more translators out there who could give me an idea what their rates are?

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BeckyBendyLegs Sun 28-Sep-08 17:57:00

Do you speak Japanese? If not I'd be happy to help...I don't speak Japanese well but spent two years in Japan teaching English at a high school so had to read many a Japanese 'English' essay and deduce meanings.

Can't help on the rates though. I am a freelance proofreader / project manager. I charge between £12 (proofreading) and £25 per hour.

DeJaVous Sun 28-Sep-08 18:39:14

The NUJ Freelance Fees Guide looks like it could be helpful. This is the translation page but there should be a guide for copy-writing fees in there somewhere too.

My theory is that if you're able to work out where in the pricing scale you are for your normal work, the list in the link should help you work out which rate is most appropriate for the job in hand IYSWIM.

Very garbled I'm afraid. I need an early night!

DeJaVous Sun 28-Sep-08 18:40:27

Bugger, wrong link!

Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 19:00:44

Thank you very much. This is all extremely helpful.

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staranise Sun 28-Sep-08 21:27:45

I'm a freelance editor and my friend who is a freelance translator charges roughly double what I charge. Have you tried the Society for Freelance Editors and Proof-readers? I find that their suggested rates are more realistic than the NUJ (who are often v low). The Institute of Translators is also a good reference point.

Threadwworm Sun 28-Sep-08 21:50:31

Thanks staranise, and everyone else. I have a good few points of reference now. Excellent. Lovely Mumsnet.

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wigparty Tue 30-Sep-08 18:16:13

Hi Threadworm,
I'm a bit late to the thread but might be able to help.

I charge between £50 and £65 per 1,000 words for translation. Depending on whether you go through an agency (lower rate) or directly to the end client (higher rate usually - I have charged £80 per 1,000 for an end client but mainly work with agencies).

For editing / proofreading, most translators charge an hourly rate. (This can be anything from £25 per hour upwards depending on your experience/subject matter).

Hope this helps in some way!

wigparty Tue 30-Sep-08 18:18:04

ps. forgot to say proofreading/editing is generally based on what you imagine you could comfortably translate in an hour.

So if you think you can comfortably translate 400 words an hour, your hourly charge would be £40 etc. etc.

wtfhashappened Tue 30-Sep-08 18:24:26

can I just ask a general translating question as there oare so many of you here? I am currently studying a german degree with one of the options post graduation to translate, after completing the necessary linguistic diploma etc. How do you all get your work? Do you go through an agency - if so, where did you find them? some of my google research has only unearthed ones which ring alarm bells. Any info given gratefully absorbed!

vonsudenfed Tue 30-Sep-08 18:28:39

I don't know too many details, but DH does graphic design/typesetting for translation agencies, who turn over a lot of work. Most of their translators are freelance - and they insist that they translate into their mother tongue.

If ypu CAT me, I could give you some names of the bigger agencies.

wigparty Tue 30-Sep-08 18:32:10

Hi wtf,

I did a language degree, worked for 6 years or so and then went back to do an MA in decision I made!

Getting started as a freelancer is pretty hard to be honest, but you'll manage if you stick with it. I forget where, but I found a huge mailing list of agencies here and in Europe and sent out about 300 cvs. I then had to take temp work (unrelated to translation) while my cvs slowly trickled through.

It took about 2 years to really get established as a freelancer. I was very lucky and managed to get a job as an in-house translator after graduating so it gave me a good starting point from which to go freelance and I made some good contacts from that job. Another useful option is to start out as a project manager in a translation agency, then you see how things work from the agency side. (I did this for a summer before starting my MA).

I wouldn't worry about who to approach at this point as you've still got the post-grad translation stage to go.

If you go that route, just make sure you get agency addresses together to contact when you graduate. (I called every agency before sending my cv so they hopefully would recognise my name - my phone bill was huge but I do think it helped!)

Now of course, there are lots of on-line forums you can upload your cv to once you've qualified (aquarius, proz etc.)

Good luck!!

Threadwworm Tue 30-Sep-08 19:23:11

Wigparty, thank you very much.

I noticed on the NUJ list that another poster linked to that rates for 'translating' American English into UK English were around £40 per 1000 words. Now that seems like a roughly parallel (but easier) task than knocking a Japanese speaker's English into shape.

Your rate of £50-80 per 1000, plus that info on the NUJ site suggest to me that £40-45 per 1000 wouldn't be unreasonable for me to charge, giving a total fee of around £490ish for an 11,000 word article (on legal philosophy). Does that sound reasonable to you, or too much? (After all, I won't be translating.)

(wtfhashappened , sorry I have no helpful info at all for you, as a hoeless monoglotblush.)

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Threadwworm Tue 30-Sep-08 19:29:23

I am a softie, and nervous of overcharging this rather polite Japanese academic.grin

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wigparty Tue 30-Sep-08 20:13:44

Hi Threadworm,
I reckon if he's a direct contact (so you're not going through an agency), I'd say £40 per 1,000 was a pretty fair price.

Perhaps see what other editors/translators say though, I'd hate to give you bad advice!

If you're not going through an agency for the work though, he'll still end up paying less than he would through a middle man and you end up getting more, everyone wins smile

You could always propose a price and wait for his feedback?

I hate quoting for new work as I'm always worried about over-/under-charging!



harpomarx Tue 30-Sep-08 20:23:36

I have charged around 30 euros per hour to a Dutch academic for correcting her (excellently written) papers in the past- the subject matter was pretty straightforward and there were substantial chunks that needed little or no work.

I would charge a fair bit more than that if there was very substantial rewriting to be done, and for a more specialized subject. Your £40 per hour sounds reasonable.

don't undersell yourself, this kind of revision can be really hard work...

Threadwworm Tue 30-Sep-08 22:12:54

Thanks very much harpomarx and wigparty. I will steel myself and not undercharge. He can always turn down my quote (though I suspect he is mucjh too polite to do that).

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wtfhashappened Wed 01-Oct-08 19:53:40

wigparty - that was really useful - thanks v much for posting.

Teddimac Thu 02-Oct-08 20:58:29

Hi Threadworm - I used to work for a translation agency and our English-Japanese or Japanese-English freelance translators tended to charge us up to about £80 per thousand words and therefore about £40 per hour for proof-reading.

I absolutely agree that you shouldn't undercharge - although you're not translating the article, in my experience it can actually be more difficult to edit a non-native speaker's English than to translate it from scratch. So good advice from DeJaVous re doing a sample section first (and you may find it gets easier as you get used to his style).

One other word of caution - are you familiar with the subject matter of his article? As obviously terminology etc will be important to the authenticity of the finished piece, and so it will take you longer the more research you have to do.

Teddimac Thu 02-Oct-08 21:04:35

WTF - have a look at the Institute of Linguists site if you haven't already... here They have plenty of info on there and occasionally do talks and stuff.

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