I recently came across this website, which compares English texts with their translations. It claims to give information on how 100 English words translate to other languages. I can’t attest to the truthfulness of most of the figures here, but as for the Swedish amount given (103), I have to disagree. Generally, an English text becomes shorter, in terms of word counts, in Swedish, because Swedish allows for longer words (created by putting two or more words together into one).
Despite the possible inconclusiveness of the numbers on this site, it relates to an interesting and important issue. Since translators get paid by the source word, should the pay be different depending on which direction a translator works in? How does, or should, this asymmetry in word count affect translators’ fees?
For example, if a Swedish to English translator gets 12 cents per source word, should an English to Swedish translator get a lower amount per word (since s/he will have more source words)? Or should the English to Swedish translator get paid per target word instead? Or is the system fair as it is?