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Will the translated version be longer or shorter than the original document?

Dutch translations generally end up being longer than the original document. This is referred to as text expansion in the translation world. In some languages, simply more words are needed than in others to say the same thing. The length of common words can vary between languages as well (compare the English 'I' to the German 'Ich') which can make it difficult to estimate how much text you will end up with.
Many translation agencies and companies base their fee on the number of target words. The advantage is that you pay for actual number of words you receive. The drawback is that you do not know how many words you will have to pay for until the translation is finished. When paying for each translated words, this can also be seen as an incentive for the translator to use more words than necessary. Plus, if your text is to betranslated from English, chances are you will end up with about 30% more words than you supplied.
Media Lingo therefore bases its rates on the source text, and take factors like expansion / contraction into account when we send you a quote. This way you know exactly how much you'll pay before you give us the go-ahead.
Dutch copy is estimated to count about 15% more words compared to English copy. However, whether your translation will end up with more or fewer words does also depend on other factors :

  • The translation volume can also have an impact on the expansion rate. If you have a short string of words, the expansion percentage will be higher than for longer texts.
  • The subject matter of the translation. Medical and legal texts tend to get longer when translated because the translator has less freedom to re-write the translation into more compact sentences, as the small details in these types of text can make a world of difference.

Texts tend to expand and shrink as follows:


From English

Into English

Albanian +15% -5% to -15%
Arabic +20% to +25% -20% to -25%
Burmese +15% -5% to -15%
Catalan +15% -5% to -15%
Croatian +15% -5% to -15%
Czech +10% -5% to -10%
Danish -10% to -15% +10% to +15%
Dutch -10% to -15% +10% to +15%
Estonian +15% -5% to -15%
Finnish -25% to -30% +30% to +40%
Flemish +10% -5% to -10%
French +15% to +20% -10% to -15%
German +10% to +35% -20% to +20%
Greek 10% -5% to -15%
Hebrew -20% to -30% +20% to +30%
Hindi +15% to +35% -15%
Italian +10% to +25% -15%
Japanese -10% to -55% +20% to +60%
Korean -10% to -15% +15% to +20%
Norwegian -5% to -10% +5% to +10%
Polish +20% to +30% -5% to -15%
Portuguese +15% to +30% -5% to -15%
Russian +15% -5% to -15%
Spanish +15% to +30% -5% to -15%
Swedish -10% +10%
Thai +15%

-5% to -15%

Table source: