3 Incredible Mythbusters on Chinese Translation That You Should Know

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Managing Chinese translation projects through the years has given us valuable lessons at the intersection of business, internet, and language. We also encountered the myths when it comes to our work. Machine translation and on-demand services are the go-to tools among users these days. However, despite their popularity, human translators remain indispensable for specialized companies.

Let’s debunk some of the well-known myths. In this post, we provide an overview of the principles and processes to understand the industry better. It is a must-read for entrepreneurs, whether they are planning to set up a Chinese website, need assistance with document translation, or brand localization.

“No need to hire a professional translator. We can use Google Translate.”

The crowdsourced translation of texts is a fascinating business model. Behind the scenes, there is a community of translators and polyglots, correcting, editing and adding translations voluntarily. However, machine translators have their limitations that human translators can process. Examples of these are the culture, context, and terminology in a specific industry. (e.g., translation of terms in financial and legal documents).

Google Translate is useful for quick translation of phrases or to get a gist of an email written from another language. Suitable for personal, but not for professional use. Some of the texts translated from Chinese to English are quite funny.

While there are extensions and plugins we can install in web browsers for automatic translation, a professionally translated and localized website reflects your company’s eagerness to connect and engage with your audience. According to the Harvard Business Review, 72.4% of customers spend most of their time on websites in their native language, and 72.4% are likely to buy a product with information in their native language.

Takeaway: When it comes to corporate websites and business documents, we recommend that you prioritize your main pages to be handled by a native professional translator, including the localization of your brand so your customers can easily connect and identify themselves with you. Remember, there are nearly 700 million Chinese internet users. Is your site ready for them?

“We have a new app that needs to be localized, let’s find a bilingual speaker to work on it.”

Mobile applications are a hit in China. It’s a billion-dollar industry, and the market is exponentially growing. However, even if you have the most brilliant app developed in English, translating and localizing it in Chinese is another story. Unfortunately, due to the limited budget and the amateurish strategy of some app publishers, they go ‘round about looking for someone “as long as he or she is a bilingual” to get things done.

Software localization is a specialized skill that requires complex tasks beyond translating words and phrases. Translators should have a background in programming where they can work their way on a myriad of strings, codes, words, and phrases they need to translate. They must live and breathe on garbage-in and garbage-out geekiness to avoid endless debugging and sleepless nights.

There’s a cut-throat competition in China’s mobile app publishing, and although things are slowing down on the investment side of mobile games overseas, western app publishers are heading to China. After all, with millions of mobile users, it’s still a lucrative market. What are you waiting for? Do you have an app for that to offer to the Chinese users?

Takeaway: You can’t be a lone ranger when it comes to the mobile app publishing. You need to find the right partners and marketing channels. We recommend you do your homework first – research, network, immerse in the startup culture – before launching your Chinese app. At Limpid, we assist companies and ensure the app publisher is presented with viable strategies to get from point A to B.

“Fiction or nonfiction, translators can translate documents as long as they know English and Chinese.”

Translation skills aren’t overnight. Where a fiction writer and translator spent years studying literature and linguistics, a nonfiction writer and translator are working on corporate websites, and marketing collaterals also spent years honing technical translation skills needed for business and online media. Both translators excel in their respective specialization. However, each one applies a different set of principles to get things done.

Literary translators are imaginative, creative and have their style of translating novel, short stories, and poems. Technical translators are generally aimed at specialized industries and audience, and the stylistic use of vocabulary and texts are less critical. So, next time you are tempted to hire someone who is bilingual, think of the long-term repercussions in your business when you don’t consider their specialization.

Takeaway: If you need technical translators, consider their specialization before working with them. One may be good at medicine and healthcare topics, while the other knows how to translate legal and financial documents. Don’t expect that just because they’re translators, they can do both literary and technical translation. Not everyone is a jack of all trades. Choose to work with the pros.