5 Overlooked Factors That Can Hurt Your Chinese-English Translations

Translation between Chinese and English is very difficult, and there are many factors to consider. Some of the most important factors often go overlooked, and that can bring down your translations (Chinese-English Translations), if not totally change their meaning.

5 Overlooked Factors That Can Hurt Your Chinese-English Translations

5 Overlooked Factors That Can Hurt Your Chinese-English Translations

Here are five things you should always think about when translating between Chinese and English.

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#1 – Location

Chinese is spoken and written differently depending on where you are. If you’re in Malaysia, you’ll be speaking and writing differently than if you were in Hong Kong. The table below gives you a good idea of just how complex the issue can become.

#2 – Tense

In Chinese, there is no tense. Certain characters must be added to indicate which tense a sentence is supposed to be read in. If you say the same thing using the same characters but you forget to add the correct additional characters that indicate tense, the words are correct, but they have no meaning or context. There is even a difference between the phrase “I know how to sing,” and “I know how to sing (but previously I did not)” in Chinese, and the difference is one character.

#3 – Combination of Characters

In Chinese, everything is contextual. The character meanings aren’t finite, they can change depending on the context. That means that the same character can have a different meaning depending on the characters that surround it. If you don’t have an intimate knowledge of contextual clues and character combination, you won’t be able to produce an accurate translation.

#4 – Order of Words

The order of words in Chinese is substantially different than the order of words in English. If you try to translate between Chinese and English putting the words in the order in which they appear in the source language, it will make no sense. Understanding the relationship between characters and words is vitally important to an accurate translation between English and Chinese.

#5 – Sentence Length

Long English sentences are common, but they’re very difficult to translate into Chinese. In some cases, it’s not possible to translate extremely long sentences into Chinese without losing the meaning entirely. If you don’t break up the sentences and know which ones need to be broken up, you can wind up with a confusing translation.

These are just five commonly overlooked facets of Chinese to English translation that make a big difference in the end product. If you’re trying to translate documents between Chinese and English, it’s vital that you work with a professional who has a deep and intimate understanding of both the source language and the target language.

If the translator doesn’t have the ability to convey the same meaning in both languages, they won’t be able to produce a cohesive, coherent document. Make sure to hire a transcreation specialist who can recreate your document in the target language without overlooking the subtleties that many people overlook.

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