Posted By P & L Blog

I recently spoke to someone preparing an estimate to produce a 20 minute film. One of the components that she needed to include was the cost of translating the script from English to Spanish. The only problem was that the script hadn't been written yet, but I was able to give her a number for the estimate. 

If you find yourself in this situation, you can roughly calculate the number of words that your script will have. Here's how:

Speech Count

  • The average person reads 3 words per second
  • The average person reads 88 words in 30 seconds
  • In one minute, the average person reads 170 words

For a twenty minute script, there would be approximately 3400 words. This does not take into account pauses or scenes when there is no voiceover, but it gives you something to work with.


Posted By P & L Blog

Two thousand words is a good day's work. - Evelyn Waugh

The same can be said for translation. We are frequently asked how long it will take to translate a document and the answer depends on several factors. The quality and complexity of the original text affects how quickly a translator can work. Most translators can translate 2,000 words a day or about eight pages.

When the translator is finished, the translation is edited and proofread by a second translator. While this process doesn't take as long as the original translation, it also needs to be built into the schedule.

Posted By P & L Blog

Okay sign


Be careful when you select photographs or graphics of common American gestures for your international documents.   User guides and operating manuals often include them as a substitute for text, to break up long paragraphs, and to make the copy easier to understand. A word of caution here: these images may be meaningless or offensive in other countries.

  • Thumbs Up - Steer clear of photos of this sign if you are selling in the Middle East or Southeast Asia.  Americans use this to show approval or support, but it is the equivalent of a middle finger salute in other areas.  In Thailand, it is considered to be a childish gesture similar to sticking out your tongue.
  • "V" Sign - Winston Churchill made this hand gesture to celebrate victory.  George W. H. Bush learned that can be an insult in many parts of the English-speaking world after he used it in front of a group of Australian farmers.
  • The "Okay" Sign - A circle made with the thumb and the index finger is definitely not okay in many parts of the world.  In France, it means something is worthless, in Japan it signifies money, and in Venezuela it is used to question someone's masculinity.
  • Crossed Fingers - A photograph of this will bring you no luck in Viet Nam where it is considered an obscene gesture.
  • Bull Horns - You won't hook any new business if you use a picture of  a raised index and pinkie fingers in Italy. This insult means that someone's wife is being unfaithful.




Image courtesy of Joe Lodge.

Posted By P & L Blog

Filing cabinets


Everyone loves PDF files, right?  Although I have nothing against them, they are not the best way to send us the document you want translated.  Here's why.


Translations estimates are prepared based on the number of words in your original, or source, document. Some PDF files can be copied and pasted into Word to determine the number of words that will need to be translated.  The problem is that the original formatting is often lost (imagine your paragraphs being copied in a random order), and photo captions, or headlines may not appear at all.  Other PDF files do not allow any copying at all.


Send your file in the original format you used to create the layout.  That way no one will need to recreate your layout from scratch. The translation can be placed correctly within your layout, captions and all, saving you both time and money.




Photo by redjar. Licensed by Creative Commons.

Posted By P & L Blog

French store circa 1904

Some languages are "wordier" than others so translations into these languages will increase the number of words in your document.  If you need a brochure translated from English into French for the Canadian market, the translation may be 30% longer.


Will it fit into your layout?  If it won't, there are two quick solutions:

  1. Reduce the font size in the French version.
  2. Edit the original text and eliminate any unnecessary words or phrases.





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