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Quantity of translated text

The most obvious dimension of translated text and translation activity in general is the quantity of translated text. It is also easy to quantify and measure. Quantity can be measured in units of pages or words or even characters, which are all related to each other. Sometimes text is also measured in lines. Pages consist of words which consist of characters. Naturally the number of words per page depends on the definition of a page, for instance the size of the page and the size of the font. In this text a standard page is understood to contain 2000 alphabetic characters. Section Measurement of translation quantity contains a sample of different standards of measurement of the quantity of translated text in five European countries.

In addition one has to note that in different languages the average quantity of words per page varies according to the properties of the language. For example, a text in Finnish usually adds up to fewer words than the equivalent text in English. One reason for this difference is that Finnish uses inflection where English uses prepositions. A point to remember is whether one is measuring the quantity in the source language or the target language. Normally the quantity is measured from the source language

Another difference in the measurement of quantity of translated text exists between idiographic languages such as Chinese and Japanese, and alphabetic languages such as European languages. In languages with an alphabet, an individual word is composed of one or more characters, that is letters of the alphabet. On the other hand, a substantial number of individual words in idiographic languages correspond each to an individual character or idiogram. Thus a text of X characters in Japanese may correspond to Y words in English

The quantity of translated text can be measured text-by-text or on a time scale, usually on a monthly or yearly basis. Quantity measured text-by-text can vary greatly, but usually there is clear minimum and maximum and naturally an average quantity. Quantity measured by year gives a general picture of translation activity within an organization. This figure can vary from several hundred pages to tens of thousands of pages a year, depending on the organization.

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Next: Quantity of translation work Up: Dimensions of translation Previous: Dimensions of translation