It’s difficult to calculate precisely how many words a translator is able to translate in a single working day. All projects are different and some are easier than others. For example, a translator may be allocated 2 projects to translate words which have the same number of words, but each has a different level of difficulty. It may take just 30 minutes to complete a simple translation while another with the same word count could take an hour or more to complete.
There are different formats that translators work within. While all are texts, some are in hard copies, while others are in electronic form. A translator working with a hard copy may only be able to translate 1,800 words each day. A translator who works with electronic formats and a suitable translation memory may be able to translate words ranging from 2,500 to 3,000 per working day. The language being translated is important too. Japanese is slower than any of the European languages. This is because a number of keystrokes are necessary in order to display and type out a character in the three alphabets that Japanese uses. When it comes to Chinese translations, translators may frequently need to choose from one of the suggestions the software offers.
How familiar a translator is with a particular topic or subject the faster the translation is likely to be and this will determine how many words it’s possible to translate. If the text is easy-to-understand the translating will be a lot quicker than a text which is harder to understand.
Typing speed is important when working out how many words can a translator translate in a single day. A slower less experienced typist will take longer to complete a translation project than a faster more experienced touch typist.
Once the translation has been completed, time will need to be taken for proofreading and editing the final translation.
One translator could translate 150 words per hour if the text is quite complex, or 600 words each hour when working on a far easier text. If a translator uses machine translation tools, how many words can a translator translate could reach 3000–5000 per day.
In conclusion, the answer to the question of how many words can a translator translate will depend on the skills and experience of the translator and how the organization allocating the translation work plays its role. The translator can set his or her goals on a daily basis and improve on the number of words as time goes on.