Aug 26, 2011

Understanding SDL Trados Studio text counts

In my recent essay on format surcharging, I proposed among other things that the added complexity of texts laden with tags might be compensated by a surcharge related to the number of tags. I intend to revisit this idea later with additional analysis and perhaps a spreadsheet tool to make things a little easier to calculate for people with a wide range of translation environment tools.

However, I faced a small problem in evaluating this approach: although I do own a license for SDL Trados Studio 2009, I use it mostly for testing and implementing cross-tool workflows, and I do very little actual translation work in that environment, because it doesn't cut it for me ergonomically. I find many of the developments at SDL in the past few years positive on the whole, driven as they are by competition such as Kilgray, with an innovative capacity to keep any company who wants to continue being taken seriously focused. But the fact is, I just can't justify the effort to do a lot with the SDL product. So there are some rather appalling gaps in my knowledge of SDL technology, which various friends discover time and again as they ask me to help them sort out the eternal refrain of Trouble with Trados. Fortunately, SDL has an excellent representative on its team, Mr. Paul Filkin, whom I believe has single-handedly done more to salvage the company's reputation and keep users loyal than anyone else in the firm in the past decade. God help SDL and users if he isn't around at some point. Sometimes he even convinces me with quiet, clear examples that Trados might have socially redeeming value.

So of course I turned to Paul with my embarrassed question about how to interpret a latter day Trados text count from Studio 2009, and he kindly obliged with the following excellent example:

The total word count for this document is 28 words:
In Studio it looks like this; I left the active segment as #4 to make it clearer when we get to the analysis… blue underlines are recognised placeables for my language pair:
The analysis is as follows:
So working by segment:

·         #1 : 5 words
·         #2 : 7 words, with one placeable that is counted in the wordcount
·         #3 : 7 words, with two tags.  The tags are also placeables and are not included in the wordcount
·         #4 : 9 words, with four placeables each of which are counted as a single word

So the conclusion would be:
  • all placeables are counted as words apart from tag
  • tags themselves can be identified for any manual adjustment to the overall rate for tag handling

A good explanation I think, though now I realize that I forgot to ask him whether the character counts include spaces, so the typical line calculations popular in German speaking countries can be performed without trouble or whether the acrobatics of adding the word count to the character count as we had to in Trados Classic are still called for here. RTFM time here, I believe. Or... Paul? Help!

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