Let's face it, whose longer?


    At Alconost, we localize software and games in 60+ languages ​​and often see developers face the same problem: different languages require different numbers of characters to transmit the same information . As a result, in the user interface some inscriptions “do not fit in” and they have to be reduced or resized.

    It is known that, for example, German is “longer” than English, and Chinese is “shorter”. However, it is unlikely that someone will be able to immediately say for sure how much one language is more “familiar” than another.

    It became interesting to us, we collected statistics and got just such a tablet with coefficients for about twenty language pairs - under the cut.

    Original languageTranslation languageHow much is the text in the target language more (+) or less (-) the original
    EnglishPortuguese (Portugal)14.29%
    EnglishPortuguese (Brazil)12.96%
    EnglishChinese (Simplified)-61.97%
    EnglishChinese (Traditional)-63.80%

    What did you think?

    The calculation was made on the basis of the data of the Nitro live online translation service (it's like Google Translate, only translation is performed by live native translators). As the service operates, so-called parallel texts accumulate there (the original in one language - translation in another).

    So we took the last 1000 orders in Nitro for each of the directions of translation, for each order we found the ratio of the number of characters in the text of the translation to the number of characters in the original text, sorted the resulting values ​​and chose the median value (median). Thus, we got the most probable attitude.


    It is noteworthy that when translating from English to Russian, the length of the text grows by 9.11%, and when translating in the opposite direction ... grows again, but only 1.39%. This may indicate that translators use more words so as not to lose and convey the meaning of the text correctly at the expense of brevity. We were sure that we would get symmetry i.e. less English text when translated from Russian - it turns out in real life this is not so.

    We were also sure for many years that the German text grows by 30% when translated from English (this figure wanders from the presentation to the presentation on the software localization of different speakers and is also found in the documentation for Microsoft developers), but this is not so - growth only 16.67%.

    Super short (more than 2.5 times!) Chinese text makes you think carefully about how our applications and iOS-licked games for pixels will look like when translated into this language.

    We hope this information is useful not only to satisfy the curiosity of “so what is the most concise language?”, But also to solve practical problems, for example, to determine the maximum sizes of fields and controls in preparation for localizing an application, game or site .

    We promise not to forget about this initiative and update, refine statistics, add new translation directions to the delight of developers and localization managers.

    About the author

    Alconost localizes applications, games and sitesinto 60 languages. Native translators, linguistic testing, cloud platform with API, continuous localization, project managers 24/7, any format of string resources.

    We also make advertising and training videos - for sites that sell, image, advertising, training, teasers, expliner, trailers for Google Play and the App Store.

    Read more: https://alconost.com

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