Some law firms are keen on saving as much as they can on translation costs. A difference of 10% can often be the deciding factor in choosing a translation provider. But I wonder how many compare the ratio of the number of words in the source text to the number of words in the target text.

Recently I shared a translation with another translator. It was one of those frantic rush jobs for a court submission deadline and the law firm requested that, in order to save time, the two of us work independently without a common editor. When it came time to paste the finished translations into the template, I was surprised to see that the other translator’s work would not fit at the specified font size. After a bit of poking around, I found that the other translator was producing a target text with about 10% more words per unit of Japanese source text than mine. It was just a matter of writing style, and the problem was easily solved by reducing the font size, but it was interesting to note that, while we were probably both charging the same rate, one of us was more expensive than the other.

Martin Cross
Japanese Patent Translation


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