"Eating words has never given me indigestion", Winston Churchill once said. While that may have been true for the British Bulldog, many a translation client has gotten indigestion, a headache, or worse after trying to understanding word counts underlying translation quotes.
Beyond the issue defining a "word" - is it source, target, reviewed, net, gross? - word counts are a perennial issue. For medical device and pharmaceutical companies collecting competitive translation proposals, it must seem confusing to receive different word counts from different translation companies.
There are generally two reasons for this:
- Which software applications were used
- How those applications were used
The second issue, how tools are used, is only hinted at in the article. Footnotes, text in graphics and anchored boxes are examples of instances where the operator's know-how can make a big difference.
The process by which TMs are leveraged is another way that words counts can be impacted. For example, prior to ForeignExchange deploying memoQ, we used a process that we called "incremental leveraging" to decrease net word counts by 10, 15, even 20%, depending on the project.
With all of these variables, it's easy to see how word counts can vary tremendously. For translation suppliers who really understand their tools, this presents an opportunity to generate more accurate and more competitive proposals. For drug and device companies, it's a good way to "look under the hood" and kick the tires on suppliers' proposals.
[Thanks to Ruben de la Fuente for the link to wintranslation's article.]
We have written quite a bit about the confusion around "words". Take a look at the following articles:
- What is a "word"?
- 100% text repetitions: To review or not to review
- What you need to know about translation memories
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