10 Common Chinese Translation Particularities to Consider

When you go to translate your documents into Chinese, it’s important to understand the difficulties that exist. As you prepare to have your documents translated, keep in mind the pitfalls and challenges you might face in order to improve your Chinese translations. Doing so will help you arrive at a much higher quality document than simply attempting a literal translation.

10 Common Chinese Translation Particularities to Consider

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Chinese Doesn’t Have an Alphabet

English has 26 letters, and those letters are the building blocks of every single word you’ll ever need to write. Not so in Chinese. It’s difficult to know where to start learning Chinese because there is no alphabet, which can make the process of translation and learning very difficult.

Cognates Don’t Exist

One thing that makes Chinese so difficult to translate into is that there aren’t any cognates. Cognates are words that sound like English but are in another language. For instance, horrible (pronounced or-REE-blay) is “horrible” in Spanish. It looks just like the world horrible, and even when it’s spoken it sounds similar. None of those words exist in Chinese, so it’s much more difficult to figure out.

The Sheer Volume of Characters

Forget the fact that characters are nothing like an alphabet. Even if they were, there are way more characters in Chinese than there are letters in English. In fact, Chinese consists of over 3,000 characters.

It’s All About Context

Apple means apple no matter what you’re saying in English. However, a character or combination of characters might mean one thing given a certain context and a completely different thing given a different set of surrounding characters. Meaning changes depending on context, so interpretation can be very tricky.

Location, Location, Location

To make matters even more complex, the variant of Chinese you’ll speak and write depends largely on the location of your audience. In some areas, they read and write in Traditional Chinese, in others Simplified Chinese, and in others, there are even variants customized for a particular location.

There’s Ambiguity Everywhere

Because Chinese is so context-dependent, there’s a lot of ambiguity. It’s difficult to know how to translate anything because so little about the language is consistent between one context and another.

There’s No Tense

Chinese has no tense, and it relies on small characters in order for tense to be understood. In other words past, present, and future tense only exist if certain characters are added.

The Word Ordering is Unique

The order of words in English is completely different than the order of words in Chinese, so even if you were able to literally translate your copy word for word, it would sound ridiculous or have no meaning at all.

The Sheer Complexity of the Language

The language itself is incredibly complex. Even native speakers have a hard time learning to write in Chinese, and the dictionary is so ambiguous that even native speakers have trouble navigating it.

Chinese is Two-Dimensional

Chinese doesn’t just go in one direction when written. It’s two-dimensional, which adds another layer of complexity to it – literally. As you can see, Chinese is an incredibly complex language. It’s important to work with a transcreation service so your translations are accurate and meaningful when published in Chinese.

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Chinese Effective Copywriting

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When a company is seeking the translation of material into Chinese, they are not only asking for someone who can convert English words into Mandarin or another dialect. They want a company that can translate the message that is being stated through those words and sentences. That is why effective copywriting is such a crucial part of a thorough and high quality Chinese translation.

Chinese Effective Copywriting

If copywriting is done correctly, it accounts for local factors, culture, customs, legal frameworks and any industry-specific standards in China before translating the material. But what are the issues that often come up with Chinese translation copywriting?

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Avoiding Lengthy Sentences

An English audience is rarely troubled by longer sentences, provided they are coherent and necessary. However, Chinese audiences much prefer short sentences, especially where marketing text is concerned. Even if the source content is full of longer sentences, the copywriter must shorten them so the final product is more palatable to a Chinese audience.

Passive Verbs

Writing in the active voice, instead of the passive voice, is even more important in China than it is in the West. Using active Chinese verbs is vital when copywriting, because your target market will perceive that text as being more powerful and comprehensible as compared to text full of passive verbs. For instance, a phrase such as “he was adored by his whole family,” should first be tweaked to, “his whole family adored him,” before it is translated into Chinese.

How We Can Help

If you require a Chinese translation in the form of copywriting, our Swiss SemioticTransfer’s team is happy to help. We have served clients who required copywriting into Chinese for close to a decade, and our translators are always striving to learn new techniques and improve their work. The work we complete is free of the most common mistakes that are normally associated with the copywriting of English text into Chinese.

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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, if not totally change their meaning. Here are five things you should always think about when translating between Chinese and English.

Chinese-English Translation

5 Overlooked Factors That Can Hurt Your Chinese-English Translations

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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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Chinese Certified Translation

How does it Work in China.

Chinese Certified Translation

When dealing with any governmental agency, legal entity or medical organization in China, a certified translation is required to complete business. And companies cannot afford for any mistakes to occur within these translations.

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Completing a Certified Chinese Translation

There are so many types of documents that may require a certified translation into Chinese. When a certified translation is being requested, the utmost precision is required. Whether a translator is helping an individual or company, they must know that a lot is at stake in relation to their translation.

For instance, immigration documents or legal contracts that are mistranslated can create huge issues for individuals or companies, while mistranslating financial records or medical documents could throw entire business agreements into jeopardy.

Different Certification Methods

The easiest way to complete a certified translation is for a company to include a statement where they indicate that they completed the translation into Chinese, and they are certifying that the translated text is 100 percent accurate.

There are also cases where a sworn translator will give the document his seal of approval. These sworn translators are often employed by the Chinese government, and are tasked with the responsibility of notarizing documents.

Depending on the case, an affidavit may be required to state the accuracy of a translation. For instance, if a divorce proceeding is underway, a Chinese translator must put it down in writing and state in front of an authorized notary that they are certifying the accuracy of the document that was translated into Chinese.

How We Can Help

Our Swiss translation agency SemioticTransfer AG aware of the pressing need for companies to get official documents translated into Chinese. A certified translation may be a key part of some business contract, government agreement or personal case.

In these cases, our team of Chinese translators will work tirelessly to ensure the translation is 100 percent accurate. They will also ensure the necessary certification is complete on the document – whether a notary or sworn translator needs to get involved.

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Chinese E-Commerce

Your Door to the Sea of Business Opportunities.

E-commerce is on the rise, of that there is no doubt. The percentage of individuals who will be shopping from an international retailer is only going to increase in the coming decade, and China is one of the largest markets in the world for such retailers.

Chinese E-Commerce

The only problem with a market such as China is the language and culture barrier. Even though many Chinese online shoppers speak English, the majority prefer to browse through sites and buy items in their own language, which is why a retailer is going to need Chinese translation services if they are to expand their e-commerce empire into that market.

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Small Window of Opportunity

Whenever there is an untapped market, it is only a matter of time before things get a little crowded. Many businesses have already expanded their e-commerce operations into China, which means that the window may not be open forever. Experts believe that companies still have a chance to launch their operations in China and succeed, but they will need to do so within five years. There is very little time to waste.

Cultural Significance

Whenever a new market is being entered, companies must be aware that translating a few words into another language is not their only goal – and China is no exception. The Chinese have their own culture, traditions and way of doing things – both offline and online. Companies need to be aware of these cultural elements and traditions when they are posting the Chinese version of their content onto their Chinese website.

We Can Help

Thanks to the work we have done at SemioticTransfer AG for businesses over the past decade, we have gained a deep understanding for the way Chinese culture and business traditions work. We have also assisted many companies in pushing their website into China – whether it is a new site or an e-commerce hub. If your business is serious about not only entering the Chinese market, but flourishing there, our translation and multilingual SEO services can help you get off to the best possible start.

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5 Top Points to Consider for Your Chinese-German Translations

Chinese German Translation

1. Current Landscape in China

Even though many Chinese natives study English when they go to school or college, the translation industry in China is not as advanced as it is in other parts of the world. Finding someone who is not only able to properly understand German, but can provide the right legal knowledge to translate important documents, is not an easy task.

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2. Translations to Local Chinese Dialects

Europeans may find it hard to believe there are so many different dialects of languages such as Chinese. However, we have Mandarin, Cantonese and Simplified/Traditional Chinese languages. The Simplified/Traditional Translating legal documents and witness statements from one language to another is always a challenge, no matter the identity of the two languages.

For instance, translations between German and English are never easy. However, many languages around the world have a ton of commonality, especially the European languages. It is not hard to find those who are experts at translating from German to Italian, or Spanish to Portuguese. However, translating from a language such as German to Chinese presents a whole set of issues.

Here are the top five points to consider during those translations. Chinese is the written version of the language, while Cantonese or Mandarin are the spoken languages. Depending on the area where these services are being offered, the translator must understand both the written and spoken languages to offer the best legal translation services.

3. Cross-Cultures and Confusion

Not only is there confusion in terms of what type of Chinese is being spoken in an area, but the Chinese culture is so different from its German counterpart. And you may wonder why culture matters, but it plays a vitally important role when completing translations.

It is important for a translator to have the right language, legal and cultural understanding of the work they are doing if they are to be successful in the long-term.

4. Massive Difference in Language Structures

Putting culture aside, the difference in language structures between German and Chinese can represent major issues as well. Translating a document from German to Chinese is not the same as an English-German translation, as the languages are so different. It is not always obvious what Chinese word can be used for its German counterpart, or vice versa.

This means translations of legal documents or witness statements between the two languages can be extremely time consuming, especially if you are striving for perfection with the finished text.

5. Legal Terminology

When completing Chinese-German translations, or any legal translation, it is vital for the translator to avoid misinterpreting legal terminology. Even the best translator can fall into such traps, as they will translate words from one language to another in the most literal way possible.

However, when converting German to Chinese or vice versa, it is vital to understand the legal meaning of what is being translated. The smallest mistake could totally change the meaning of a phrase, and that would spell trouble for both parties who requested the translation.

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Chinese Medical Translation

When Expert Service Is A Must.

When companies are attempting to sell their medical products or drugs to the Chinese market, a lot more work is required than most people imagine.

Chinese Medical Translation

Aside from getting the relevant documents cleared by the Chinese government, several medical translations are required to get everything squared away. A Chinese translation is not easy in the best of circumstances, but medical translations often take on greater meaning.

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Chinese Translation of Medical Documents

Medical translations are often required by customers doing business in China, and they may pertain to pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, dentistry, biomedicine or public health. Not only will companies and individuals require Chinese translation experts who have extensive experience with the language, but they need someone who has a complete understanding of the medical industry in the country.

Accuracy Matters

Nothing is more important in a Chinese translation of medical documents than accuracy. When a company is attempting to get international clearance and compliance for their medical products, before they can sell them to the Chinese market, mistakes are not an option. Whether it is a product label, health advisory or some other document, even the slightest error could throw off the entire process.

Translators are required to fully understand both English and Chinese, while they must also possess the appropriate knowledge of the medical field related to their translation work. For instance, someone with experience in dentistry should not be translating documents pertaining to cancer drugs.

How Can We Help?

Working with firms in China, or those that are hoping to enter the Chinese market, is something we have done for years. Our team of Chinese translation experts is ready to assist your company with the medical forms, documents and other material you need translated. We understand the precision and efficiency that is required to complete these translations in a timely and accurate manner.

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Cross-Border Dispute Resolution (Chinese Translations)

Ensuring Accurate Chinese Translations.

Cross Border Dispute

There are so many advantages that companies experience when they take their business outside of their borders. Globalization has made a huge difference to the way the world works, and businesses are containing to profit as they deliver products and services to consumers on the other end of the globe.

Cross-Border Dispute Resolution (Chinese Translations)

However, there are issues that cross-border commerce brings with it – and they often involve disputes between businesses or a business and a foreign government. And with these disputes comes the need for accurate translations.

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Resolving Disputes with Chinese Companies

Online dispute resolution is one method that companies can use if they run into problems in another country. Instead of having to deal with the court system and the delays it presents, companies can get their case resolved in a quick time frame. These cases are usually resolved through mediation or negotiations, while arbitrations are sometimes necessary.

However, the problem arises when a company must deal with another company, or the court system, in a country with a different language. Most online dispute resolution systems are in English as a default, and support for other languages is not extensive. If a company is involved in such an online dispute resolution procedure with a Chinese company, they would find themselves struggling to understand what is being said by the other side – especially if they do not wish to communicate in English.

How We Help

Luckily, Swiss translations agency SemioticTransfer can provide your company with a Chinese translation service that can help you during such an online dispute resolution process. Our English to Chinese translators will work with you in real-time to ensure that you are getting the proper translation of what is being conveyed by the other side. In addition, if you wish to have your messages translated so they can properly understand your conditions during the negotiation, our translator will get the job done for you.

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Common American-Chinese Translation Issues

Don’t Let Any Linguistic Barriers to Hinder Your Business Expansion.

Amercian Chinese Translation

When dealing with regular translations between American English and Chinese, problems can occur.

Common American-Chinese Translation Issues

The direct translation between the two languages does not always represent the true meaning of what is being said. However, these issues can take on a whole new meaning when legal documents are involved.

Since there are so many differences between American and Chinese laws, legal translations between the two languages can represent a major problem.

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Cultural meaning differentiation of a contract

Many companies have found that the documents they translated from American English to Chinese did not adequately and accurately represent the legality of various aspects of the document. For instance, the very meaning of contracts can vary between English and Chinese.

It is often the case that the Chinese refer to a contract as the starting point for a relationship, with the document evolving as the relationship between the two companies grows. However, Americans view contracts as firm and permanent.
In addition, each region of China has a different language that is used as the primary mode of communication, which can present further issues.

The laws, culture and customs of that region also play a part in how contracts and legal documents are interpreted by local governments, business partners, clients and potential customers.

How We Can Help

If your company is planning an international expansion, we can aid. Our experts can accurately translate the documents you will require submitting to foreign governments, clients, and business partners.

Our Swiss agency not only offers the best legal translation services, but we can also provide your company with assistance regarding the intricacies of creating and translating contracts from American English to Chinese.

Unless you want to run into serious problems due to incorrect or unclear translations, we suggest contacting our company so we can set you up with a high-quality translator and liaison to assist with your Chinese translations.

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Lost in Translation: Chinese-German

Your Main Challenges.

One of the most challenging jobs for a translator is when you are working with two languages that are so different from each other.

Translation Chinese German

Lost in Translation: Chinese-German

Translating between European languages is difficult, but any expert translator can get the job done without an issue. However, the translation between Chinese and German is a massive undertaking, especially given the lack of professional-quality translators in China.

There are some good Chinese-English translators in the mainland, but it is hard to find a quality Chinese-German translator. And depending on the nature of your business, you will need to find a high-quality translator to get the job done.

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What’s the Main Challenge?

There are several reasons why Chinese-German translations are particularly challenging. The first reason is because of the massive difference between the two languages, and cultures.

There are so many phrases and idiosyncrasies in both languages and cultures that do not automatically translate from one to another. And when you add in the complication that there are several different dialects spoken in the Chinese mainland, the problems for a translator only mount when taking on such a project.
However, the best translators find a way to get the job done, and they use these experiences to perfect their translation techniques between the two languages.

A final complication for Chinese-German translations is when legal documents come into the picture.

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How We Can Help

Whether you are translating a letter, a corporate statement between these languages, or a legal document, our professional translation company can get it done. Our professional and courteous staff will help you translate your Chinese to German texts, contracts, statements, and more with ease. We ensure the language will find true and absolute equivalency.

We not only fulfill the requirements presented to us, we always go the extra mile to provide your translations with the nuances specific to the language group. This allows for a more precise translation that will be appreciated by those whose German is their natural language.

What can we do for you?

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