24 Jan How many words can a professional translator translate?
Have you ever wondered how many words a professional translator translates each day? You are not the only one to ponder on this issue. Many people wonder how a professional translator can live surrounded by words, more words and yet more words. Is there a limit on how much a professional can translate each day? However, this is a complicated question to which there is no single answer since each translation company has a different working methodology, as well as different software, computers, skills and experiences.
For example, imagine assigning a translation job of the same number of words to two different professional translators, but one of these being the translation of a website and the another a literary translation. Most likely, you will discover that the two tasks require a different approach. While one may take about 30 minutes to complete, the other may require an hour or more to finish. If you speak different languages, you will know exactly what we are talking about: Try translating the menu from a Michelin starred restaurant! 😉
In addition to this, we must consider the format in which the texts to be translated are presented. Translating a printed document takes longer than translating a document on your computer. While a translator working with a paper document can do about 1,800 words a day, translators working with electronic formats and a good translation memory can achieve between 2,500 and 3,000 words in the same time. This can also differ between languages, since it is known that translating into Japanese is slower than translating into European languages.
You also have to take into account the time required for a professional translator to edit and correct the project, since a translation job is not only about translating, it is also checking the translation once, twice or even three times.
A translator can expect to translate 150 words each hour if they are working on a complex text with relatively unfamiliar vocabulary which they need to research. The very same person could expect to translate 600 words per hour when working on a much easier text from their specialist area.
Professional translators are full of surprises, but there is no denying that they live surrounded by words and languages.