Not everyone who is bilingual can translate (written) or interpret (spoken) in a professional manner. A good linguist captures not just the words but also the meaning and transfers that into another language. An untrained linguist can create lawsuits, unacceptable marketing messages, a poor company image, and lost sales. When you are looking for Global Translation Services, it is important to use a qualified agency to handle your Chinese English language translation.
As you consider entering the Chinese market, language plays a key role. The six main spoken dialects are Mandarin, Wu, Cantonese, Min, Hsiang, and Hakka. All six are basically different languages. When you are planning your Chinese communications you need a qualified interpreter that can speak the correct dialect. To communicate successfully with an interpreter, remember these hints:
- Speak slowly and allow time for the interpreter to speak.
- Avoid colloquialisms and slang.
- Send advance reading material so the interpreter can prepare.
There are only TWO forms of written Chinese – Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. A short history lesson will explain the difference.
Traditionally, in China only the upper class learned to read and write. After Mao Tse-tung became ruler of China in 1949, he made reading and writing available to “the masses” by simplifying the language. Basically, he took the 3,000 most used characters out of the traditional 40,000 – 50,000 characters and simplified them. Thus, citizens within the borders of China learned Simplified Chinese and Chinese writers outside China (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, US, and Thailand) continued to use Traditional Chinese.
So, written materials for China need Simplified Chinese. Here are a few other pointers on how to procure a quality global translation.
- Determine what needs to be translated. Materials include legal documents, marketing or operations materials, user manuals, financial reporting, and research materials.
- Appoint a language contact in your company. Save time and costs, by having a point person keep records of materials already translated.
- Match the materials to the resource. There are four ways to translate materials:
- Machine translation is a cheap and fast way to get a translation done. Free web tools or inexpensive software is efficient but quality is poor. Machine translation is only appropriate for getting the “gist” of the materials.
- Internal personnel offer company and industry knowledge but you may sacrifice quality as these people are not professionally trained translators. Also, when you pull employees away from their jobs there is an opportunity cost for what the person would have been doing instead.
- Direct to translator can work great with a qualified person. The cost may be less than using a translation agency. Be wary that if the person has unexpected circumstances, you have no back up. Plus, you manage the project across all languages.
- A translation agency offers the highest quality, fastest turnaround and most dependable service. The foreign language agency manages all issues, translators, and editors to deliver the final product. Translation agency pricing includes project management, quality assurance and dependability, so you will pay slightly higher than managing it on your own.
- Understand the different levels of quality:
- Rough – used when you want to know the gist of the subject matter. For example, preliminary research, emails and correspondence, large catalogues.
- Quality – high quality translation that can be used globally. For example, a good Traditional Chinese website translation can be used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
- Localized – most personalized - a “Quality” translation adapted for local markets. For example, software developed for the United States that mentions the dollar, and Washington DC as the capital. A quality translation agency will know that “the big apple” is not relevant in the United Kingdom.
- Maintain quality – even if you don’t speak Chinese, there are ways to ensure quality.
- Be consistent. Stay with one team of language translators. Like writing, each person has a style and you want to maintain a consistent voice by using the same translators.
- Hire the right person. You would never hire a programmer to write marketing materials or have your receptionist write technical manuals. The same rule goes for translation.
- Always edit and have internal bilingual personnel review it. An extra set of eyes always helps.
- Localize when needed.
- Allow time. Give approximately one day for every 1000 words of translation.
- Budget – quality translation takes time and money, but the return is worthwhile if done right. Translation is priced according to translated word count. The price per word ranges from $.12-.40 cents depending on language, length of material, technical content, and layout needs.
The population of China is four times that of the United States. That potential combined with the weakening dollar makes this an ideal time to enter the market in China regardless of any global language issues. Rapport International, LLC can assist you with all your global translation needs. Rapport provides free quotes, free project consultations, and excellent customer service. For more information, visit Rapport Translations.